Story Writing Made Easy
By Vanessa Hunt
Member hunting stories are an essential part of our business. We are a hunting service for every hunter, and I believe that a large part of that is thanks to our printed member stories in our magazine each month. It is exciting to hear about a top-of-the-line hunt that a professional hunter went on, but it is just as entertaining to read a story about a hunter going on their dream hunt or a kid going on their first-ever hunt.
Writing a story is not always easy as there is a lot to think about when trying to get all of the details down on paper; however, if you think about writing out the story the same way that you would tell it to your hunting buddy around the campfire, the task doesn’t seem quite so daunting. Since Huntin’ Fool® is a membership-based organization, it is exciting to be able to print so many member stories within the pages of our magazine and under the “Web Stories” section of our website. Being able to share your hunting stories with other hunters just like you is a great opportunity, so don’t let the fear of having to actually write out a story stop you from submitting one about an awesome hunt you went on! That is where I come in. As the editor of the Huntin’ Fool® magazine, it is my job to prepare your story to be ready to be printed in the magazine. If grammar isn’t your strong point, don’t worry. Just get the ideas and details of your hunt onto the page the best you can and send it in to us. If your story is chosen to be printed in the magazine, it will go through our editing process at least three times before it goes to print. Rest assured that we will not reject your story if you don’t know the difference between your/you’re, they’re/their/there, or where/were/we’re. Those are things that we will fix within our editing department. We want your story to be able to go to print with you feeling proud of it and with it looking and reading the best that it can.
If you want to write a story to submit to the Huntin’ Fool® magazine, I would suggest that you start thinking about it even before your hunt starts. Once you have your tag, be confident that you are going to have a successful hunt and that you want to share the story of it with the rest of the hunting community. However, it is not an end-all if you wait until the hunt is over to make the decision to write a story for our magazine, it is just helpful for you to think about what you want to write while you are out on your hunt. After your hunt is over, make notes of the important details of your hunt. This will help you to organize your thoughts when you sit down to start writing out your story. If you find yourself trying to figure out where to begin, tell your hunting story vocally to a friend and pay attention to the details you give them. Use that stream of thought as a way to get the important details down on paper.
Write it like you would say it. Do not write the story out as a timeline or as a list of bulleted points. You wouldn’t say, “September 22: ate breakfast, left camp, glassed for deer…” in a story you were telling your hunting buddy, so you shouldn’t write your story that way either. Your story should read easily and flow well, but I can help with that part. Read back through it to make sure that it makes sense to you, and I can fix some details if they are not quite clear when I read through your story. Reading your story out loud to yourself or to a friend is a great way to make sure that it flows well and doesn’t feel too choppy. If you find a spot that you trip over while reading it out loud, consider going back and reworking that section. However, sometimes you may need some help. If you can’t get it just right, leave it as is and I’ll see what I can do.
We would like all stories for our magazine to be kept to a range of 900-1,200 words in length. This gives us space to add more photos to your layout as the photos tell your reader just as much about your hunt as the words that are written on the page. With this word limit, it is essential that you include the most important details from your hunt and cut out the “fluff” details, such as all of the scenery you glassed, every meal you ate, how you set up camp, etc. Once you have your story written, go back through it and take out any details that seem to detract from the main point of the story. While it is cool to hear about the scenery you saw on the day you went out scouting, we would rather hear the details of the actual hunt, if word count is an issue. It helps to move the story along without getting hung up on the minor details. A good outline to remember when writing your story is: getting the tag, preparing for the hunt, going on the hunt, and your reaction after the hunt. These sections do not need to be long, they just need to hit on the important details. An easy way to go about it is to write one paragraph about getting the tag, one paragraph about preparation, a few paragraphs about going on the hunt, and one paragraph about your reaction after the harvest. This helps to keep your story from getting too bogged down in unnecessary details. Remember to keep your story simple, precise, and to the point.
When you send in your story, be sure to include photos from your hunt as well. If you send in a photo of an animal, and it is not a photo that you are submitting for the Live Animal Photo Contest, try to mention the animal in your story or vice versa. The photos should serve as a support system to your story. It’s difficult for our Art Department to create a layout of your story if you send in a bunch of photos of elk but your story makes no mention of elk. Also, if you mention in your story that your hunt was filmed, we would love to have the video file so that our members can see clips of your hunt. You may even end up a winner as part of our Video Contest. Your story, photos, and video together create a cohesive unit that gives the reader the ability to really feel like they were right there with you on the hunt.
If you have been debating about whether or not to write a story for the Huntin’ Fool® magazine, start writing after your next successful hunt! It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself a writer or not, we are here to help you make your story the best that it can be. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have regarding writing and/or submitting a story. Good luck on your hunts this fall. Be sure to send us a story once you get home. We can’t wait to read about all of your hunting success!