English is the language of the land. We prefer articles with proper grammar, punctuation, and structure. Remember that you are writing for a general national audience of 150,000 bikers or more, so make the article easily understood. Get a good paperback writers’ handbook and style manual and keep them by your computer. Strunk & White’s or Webster’s are both excellent.
Get your facts right. That includes spelling of names and places. If you cover an event at Famoso Raceway, don’t call it Fomosa or Formoso. Run a Google check and make sure you have it right. When interviewing a bike owner about his motorcycle, make sure you get the correct spelling of his name and anyone else that helped on the build.
Most word processing programs have built-in spell check and grammar check. Use it. It won’t always be right, because it won’t recognize some of the words and names you’ll use (like Edelbrock or Ariel) until you enter them into your own personal dictionary. At least the program will flag a possible discrepancy and give you the opportunity to fix it. Spell check also will not catch the wrong word spelled correctly (right, write, rite; to, too, two).
Give your story some variety of words. Get a thesaurus if you need to.
Keep to the subject. If you’re writing an article about Joe Blow’s 1938 Knucklehead, there should be no more than a passing reference, if any at all, to other bikes he has owned or built. Those can be the subjects of other stories. Likewise, if you are writing about a bike event, the readers are more interested in the event itself and what happened there than in what time you left home to get there, how late your buddy was (everyone has a late buddy story), or how much green mold was on the walls in the Hell Motel you stayed in during your journey.
Include captions for your photos. Captions help the reader decide whether to read an article or not. They also can give some much-desired information. Our readers really seek information about other people’s bikes.
Proofread your work. Either have someone else go over it, or walk away for awhile and then come back and go over it with a fresh eye.
All articles must be in electronic format. Send it on a disk or e-mail it. Either one is OK. Don’t plan on an editor retyping your story for you…ain’t gonna happen! LEAVE THE CAPS LOCK TURNED OFF!