Let’s Get Cracked! Choosing a Topic

Thought I forgot about this, didn’t I? In a sense, you were right, but I did warn you.

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In August of last year, I posted my intent to get on www.cracked.com, a list article website that I love. Over the years, I’ve collected article ideas like a poorly armed rebel picking up any rock she happens by on the road. If I’m going to write a Cracked article, it’ll be on one of the following topics.

– Top Self-Fulfilling Prophecies in History

– Terrible Leaders Loved By Their Country

– Items You Didn’t Know Contained Gluten (examples: the part of the letter you lick, anything with food coloring)

-Top Cliffhanger Continuity Problems (think like the one in Misery, only less disastrous for the writer of said series other than this humorous article)

– Top Ways Businesses Are Nothing Like You Think (such as how they’re environmentally friendly, split politically, and hate war)

– Something about Magic: The Gathering (I haven’t played in years, but I’ll be damned to Phyrexia if I let all that money go to waste.)

With that in mind, let’s begin.

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Lack of polish and colors here creates a sort of business-like environment. I dig it.

 

According to the guidelines set by the Board of Editors, I have to do a lot of the prep work myself before my pitch is even considered. The first step is writing a pitch, of course. This consists of a title, a brief blurb introducing my subject, and 6 bullet points for each example, with quotes and sources for each step along the way. All of this under 2000 words. Once I’m done with that and I submit my pitch, said pitch will be looked at by the Editors of Cracked. If they like it, they’ll move it to the “Pitches We’re Considering” Forum. If, in the forum, the pitch gets a favorable response from the community, the editors will take it to a meeting to fight for it. If there’s revision to be done, this is where they’ll tell me, instead of just rejecting my pitch like they could in earlier stages.

If they tell me the pitch is solid, I’ll have two weeks to write a draft of the article. Turning in a draft gives me $150 dollars and my article on the site 6 weeks later. One writer here talks about how his draft was completely rewritten for its final publication— disheartening, but a great chance for him to roll up his sleeves and stick his hands in the grimy cesspool of What’s Not Working In His Writing. I’ll likely, after my article’s published, print out both the draft and the final copy and mark where they differ, so I know what to work on for next time. Cracked recommends this tactic, and for good reason: it’s the most clear-cut “This was not good” vs. “This is good” one can get.

Cracked recommends a “what you think you know, but actually,” structure for articles. Some examples for good pitches they provide include “6 Daring Assassination Plots (Carried Out By Morons)” and “5 Movie Plot Holes You Didn’t Notice Due To Editing.” Each of these articles take a preconceived idea and subvert it through facts and sources. So although I’d love to bring more history back to Cracked, “Top Self-Fulfilling Prophecies in History” doesn’t fit this structure well and might be better saved for a later article.

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For those who want more Cracked, but not as good (Sorry!)

Looking at the forum for “Pitches We’re Considering,” there’s actually a fair bit of history there, though books and movies still hold a lead in terms of subject-count. And some articles have several cut entries within themselves, bullet points that the readers don’t think are worthy of entering in the article proper. Sometimes, the cut portions may be as long as the article itself. I’ll likely write a bunch of entries for an article, pick the ones I like best for the pitch, and then save the rest in case some of the chosen ones don’t make the cut. With that in mind, here’s the final list of pitches I’m considering:

  • The Magic: The Gathering Subculture is Insane. Here’s 6 Reasons Why.
  •  6 Ways Businesses Are Nothing Like You Think
  •  6 TV Plotholes Caused by Cliffhangers
  •  6 Items With Gluten In Them For Absolutely No Reason
  • 6 Awful Leaders (Beloved in Their Countries)

 

Which one of these potential articles would you want to read the most? Which one of these should I write first?

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Let’s Get Cracked! Introduction

So we’ve all heard of cracked.com, yes?

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Why does everyone over 30 act bemused at the title anyways?

It’s a good website. I love it. I’m not sure whether it was the buffalo that started the stampede of list articles choking the internet- it’s a contemporary of Buzzfeed, at least- but Cracked’s the most well-groomed and well-fed of that herd. They cover a wide variety of topics and attack them from various angles, whether through vigorous research or just by plum asking the people involved in said topic. You’ve got inspirational-yet-tough articles from John Cheese and David Wong, music insights by Gladstone, funny and informative readings from the other contributors, and, my favorite series from the site, Luke McKinney’s Dick Moves in Online Gaming Series. Excellent stuff all around. They might not always check their facts the best, but the great outweighs the bad like a lion on top of a brussel sprout.

And if you do read Cracked, you might have noticed this…

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Oh hell yes we’re there!

This’ll be the start of a miniseries of blog posts called “Let’s Get Cracked!” I’ll journal my journey to a spot on the site, be it a single article or an entire column under my name. You’ll learn how I made it and what to do/not do in the process. There’s no set timetable on this- I’ll update when I make progress, with no stone dates for accomplishing anything yet.

Keep reading Cracked. Or start reading Cracked. Whatever you do, watch the bylines.