Every Member Has a Story
The Member Story feature is a benefit of Western Arts Alliance membership made possible by our new website. Using vivid photography, lively prose, and prominent placement, the Member Story is a great way to share the vision and spirit of your work with friends, colleagues, the field and public. Submit yours! Check out the guidelines below, then submit your story to Carrie Stephens, WAA's Membership & Communications Manager.
The purpose of WAA’s website, www.westarts.org, is to be a primary resource for performing arts professionals in the West and beyond. It provides an outlet for announcing important information related to the membership and/or field at large, as well as exploring new ideas and highlighting individual members. Each Member Story will be published at www.westarts.org and periodically shared via email with WAA’s members and constituents.
Every WAA member is entitled to one entry in the Member Story “catalog.” Stories will appear in rotation on the home page, the member story page, and within Western Ways. The body text is limited to 300 words. The story title will be your organization name as listed in the membership directory. The subtitle should be no more than 60 characters.
Editing & Acceptance
As the author, you are responsible for all facts, including dates and the correct spelling of names of both people and organizations.
After submission, please allow at least one-two weeks for the review of your article. We may accept your article outright, accept it with staff revisions, or accept it contingent upon your revision. All accepted articles are subject to editing for style, clarity, and length.
Your writing style is your own, and WAA will make every attempt to preserve it as we prepare your article for publication. We will edit, however, to ensure a substantive, clear, and lively composition. If your article is substantially revised, we will send you the edited version, and you will have about three days to review it.
WAA Staff reserves the right to delay or withhold publication of any article submitted. Authors will be kept informed of such decisions.
If questions arise during or after the evaluation process, we’ll call you; but otherwise, the next time you’ll see your article will be when it’s in print!
Telling Your Story
Make it moving. The best stories are the ones that move the reader, inspire them to share it on social media, or take action.
Think Visuals. WAA’s website relies on visual storytelling. Each Member Story is anchored by a high-quality photograph. Before they’ve read one word, site visitors will notice the photo you use to illustrate the story. Submit photos that make your story pop.
Speak to your reader. Make a compelling link between the storyteller and reader.
Leave an impression. People will forget what you told them. They’ll forget what you did. But they’ll never forget how you made them feel.
Find the right frame. Don’t make your story about your organization; make it about your work—a season, project, your community, your artists... You are free to update your Story as frequently as you like.
Share your voice. Storytelling doesn’t have to live within the marketing team. Staff, artists, patrons, all can contribute to a culture of storytelling.
Give it an arc! This is a Member Story after all. Write it with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Keep it simple. Simple stories are the best.
Last, don’t be afraid to fail! Take a leap and try something new!
Ready to Write…
Like any skill, writing is improved by doing – again, and again, and again. Here are a few suggestions that may make it easier for you to get your thoughts in order.
Create a working subtitle.
A working subtitle will help focus your ideas. Make it brief (three to six words), use an active verb, and aim to be clever but not obtuse.
Write a lead sentence or paragraph that compels your audience to read the article.
You may choose a surprising statistic, a witty or shocking quotation, a question, a scenario, or an analogy as your lead. Most important, it must be relevant to your story and get to the point quickly: What is the story’s purpose?
Write freely, and let go of your inhibitions.
Don’t attempt perfection in the first draft of your article. This is the time to get down all your thoughts.
Pay attention to tone.
The tone you adopt is crucial to your article’s readability. Pretend you are telling your story to a colleague, face to face. Avoid jargon, and define the jargon you must use. Avoid acronyms but spell out any common or necessary acronyms on the first usage.
Point out the relevance to others.
Make your points using examples from your experience; then explicitly tell readers how they can apply your experience at their organizations.
Write as you would speak.
Shun the passive voice in favor of the active voice. And, as Strunk and White say in The Elements of Style, “Do not be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy, ready and able.”
Make your conclusion as memorable as your lead.
Instead of merely summarizing, try to surpass the limits of the article. To quote the editors of Harvard Business Review, “A good conclusion adds something new, but relevant, to the article—a forecast, a challenge, a clinching bit of evidence, or, ideally, something to do on Monday morning.”
Edit your article thoroughly at least twice.
Delete unnecessary words and phrases. Move paragraphs to achieve continuity. Rewrite entire sections. Make sure that each paragraph follows logically from the one before it.
Double-check the accuracy of your article using the “red check” method.
Return to your original source material, and verify every name, date, fact, and figure, placing a red check mark over each in your article. Accuracy is your responsibility. Remembering how irritating it is to see your own name misspelled in print is motivation enough for red checking.
Test market your article by asking a few colleagues to read it.
They may point out ways to clarify your message, add an example, or liven up your lead sentence.