Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Writing for Wikipedia – The Rest of the Story

In an earlier post, we created leads for our articles. Today we draft the rest of the story.

If you haven't already done so, begin by reviewing existing author pages. What kinds of information is included? How is it grouped under sub-titles? What kinds of external links (links to pages outside of Wikipedia) are included? What kinds of wiki links? What kinds of categories are used?

Now look at the information you’ve gathered on your author. Can you organize it into chunks of related items? What heading (sub-title) would you give to each chunk of information? Organize the information that way in your document so you can cut and paste later.

What is typical for authors? It depends.

Take a look at Nevada Barr and Linda Barnes. They have the simplest form of article for authors – a lead and a list of publications. (Note there is no table of contents. That’s because there’s only one subheading – the list of books. We’ll learn tomorrow that Wikipedia automatically adds the table of contents for us when more than four sub-headers are included in the article.)

Also look at Robert Crais, whose page mentions a few other notable facts and Robert Heinlein, whose page contains a novela’s volume of information.

My article on William G. Tapley will contain two chunks of information: Biography and Publications. The Barnes, Barr, Crais, and Hemingway pages illustrate different ways to present a list of publications.

Next, consider what links (external and wiki) you’d like to use and gather those into your document. The author’s website can be included here, but don’t stop with that. Remember, you need to firmly establish notability or your article could be deleted by the Wiki Powers. If your author’s name is not instantly recognizable to the average person (e.g. Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway), deletion is a risk. Use external links to newspaper articles (large papers, not the neighborhood press), established news-based websites, publisher pages, etc.

Hint: When providing external links, it is important to provide the full address. Use your browser (IE, Fire Fox, etc.) to go to the target page. Once there, double-click on the address (top of page, begins with http://). Double-clicking guarantees you have the entire address selected. With the entire address highlighted, click your right mouse button. This displays a drop down menu. Click on the word ‘copy’. Now put your cursor in your document, right click again, and select ‘paste’. Now you have the complete address in the same place as the rest of your information. Do this for each link to save time later.

Can you use internal links–links to other Wikipedia pages? Yes! Use these throughout your article–the first time (and only the first time) you mention the item associated with another Wikipedia page. These are the links that make Wikipedia a such a useful tool.

Finally, scroll to the bottom of each page and review the Categories. Make a list of categories for your selected author.

My draft article now looks like this:

William G. Tapply (1940 - July 28, 2009), an American author also known as Bill
Tapply, and best know for his Brady Coyne mystery novels, penned more than forty
books during his twenty-five year novel writing career and nearly a thousand magazine articles during his lifetime. He was a Contributing Editor for Field & Stream and a columnist for American Angler. With his wife, author Vicki Stiefel, he ran The Writers Studio at Chickadee Farm from which they mentored young writers.

William G. Tapley, born in Waltham, Massachusetts, grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts where he graduated from Lexington High School. He added a B.A. from Amherst College and an M.A.T. from Harvard to his arsenal before launching his first career as a teacher Lexington High School, where he worked for nearly twenty-five years.

Although he always found time for his love of teaching (Lexington High, Concord High, Emerson College, Clark University, and , The Writers Studio at Chickadee Farm), in the early 1980s he began to share his love of the written word with the world, with magazine articles in such publications as Field & Stream, and Sports Illustrated. In 1984, he published his first novel, Death at Charity's Point.

For most of his career as a novelist, he lived in Hancock, N.H. At this writing, fans of the Brady Coyne novels have twenty-three pure Brady Coyne and tree Brady Coyne/J.W. Jackson mysteries to read. Readers who crave more also have access to three Stoney Calhoun mysteries, and fifteen non-fiction books on writing, fishing and life outdoors.

Published Works
Brady Coyne Mystery Novels
• Death at Charity's Point, Scribner, 1984
• The Dutch Blue Error, Scribner, 1985
• Follow the Sharks, Scribner, 1985
• The Marine Corpse, Scribner 1986
• Dead Meat, Scribner, 1987
• The Vulgar Boatman, Scribner, 1987
• A Void in Hearts, Scribner, 1988
• Dead Winter, Delacorte, 1989
• Client Privilege, Delacorte, 1989
• The Spotted Cats, Delacorte, 1991
• Tight Lines, Delacorte, 1992
• The Snake Eater, Otto Penzler Books, 1993
• The Seventh Enemy, Otto Penzler Books, 1995
• Close to the Bone, St. Martin's Press, 1996
• Cutter's Run, St. Martin's Press, 1998
• Muscle Memory, St. Martin's Press, 1999
• Scar Tissue , St. Martin's Press, 2000
• Past Tense, St. Martin's Press, 2001
• A Fine Line, St. Martin's Press, 2002
• Shadow of Death, St. Martin's Press, 2003
• Nervous Water , St. Martin's Press, 2005
• Out Cold, St. Martin's Press, 2006
• One Way Ticket, St. Martin's Press, 2007

Brady Coyne/J.W. Jackson Mystery Novels
• First Light, St. Martin's Press, 2001
• Second Sight, St. Martin's Press, 2004
• Third Strike, St. Martin's Press, 2007

Stoney Calhoun Mystery Novels
• Bitch Creek, The Lyons Press, 2004
• Gray Ghost, St. Martin's Press , 2007
• Dark Tiger, 2009

Non-fiction Works
• Those Hours Spent Outdoors,Scribner, 1988.
• Opening Day and Other Neuroses, Lyons and Burford, 1990.
• Home Water Near and Far, Lyons and Burford, 1992.
• Sportsman's Legacy, Lyons and Burford, 1993.
• Thicker Than Water, a romance/suspense novel co-written with Linda Barlow, published in 1995 by Signet.
• The Elements of Mystery Fiction, a resource for aspiring mystery writers, was first
published by The Writer, Inc. in 1995, and reissued by Poisoned Pen Press in 2004.
• A Fly-fishing Life, The Lyons Press, 1997.
• Bass Bug Fishing,The Lyons Press, 1999.
• Upland Days, The Lyons Press, 2000.
• A Brady Coyne Omnibus, containing three Brady Coyne novels, published by St. Martin's in 2000.
• Pocket Water, The Lyons Press, 2001.
• The Orvis Pocket Guide to Fly Fishing for Bass, The Lyons Press, 2001.
• Gone Fishin', The Lyons Press, 2004.
• Trout Eyes, Skyhorse Publishing, 2007.
• Upland Autumn,2009
Tomorrow we enter our masterpieces in Wikipedia.

New Contributors Help Page
Your First Article
Quick Reference Cheat Sheet

Other articles in this series include:
• January 15 – Wikipedia Registration
• January 22 – Background on Biographies
• February 05 – Writing the Lead
• March 31 – Creating an Article in Draft
• TBD – Removing article from draft status, Benefits, Odds and End

Charlotte Phillips is the co-author of the Eva Baum Detective Series, 2009 President for The Final Twist Writers Group and contributor to multiple blogs. Learn more about Charlotte and her books and short stories at:


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  1. Wow,this is impressive, Charlotte. You've done a tremendous amount of research and work on this. Thanks so much.

  2. This is a wonderful resource. Now I just have to partner up with another "lesser known" author to write about each other and see if we can get listed.

  3. Maryann, you might think about doing a page for Sarah Addison Allen, that wonderful NYTimes best-selling author of Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, and the latest which is wonderful, The Girl Who Chased the Moon. Have you read her work? Wonderful! Especially if you have a sweet tooth. Not sacchrine though - REAL shugah!


  4. Great info, Charlotte! Thanks! Now, anyone interested in partnering?

  5. Thanks for the very thorough job you did, Charlotte.

    Now, if only I can be impressive enough to get listed there. I'll keep trying.

    Morgan Mandel

  6. Karen,
    Thanks for the feedback. I had a great time researching and learning about Wikipedia.

  7. Dani,
    You're making me hungry! I feel a need to run to the nearest bookstore and stock up.

  8. Morgan,
    I'm sure you'll make it - I love your books.

  9. Sylvia,
    You may want to ask your question over at the BBT Cafe or TFT.


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