The Last Homely Herald: What is is it?

Our goal is simple: publish the Herald each month. The Last Homely Herald is the newsletter of the Plaza Kingdom of Rivendell. It reports on the news of that kingdom, and tries to be representative of the interests and activities of that kingdom.

The editors’ view of that kingdom strongly influences how we present it. With Lae’s blessing, I added a “spin” to the paper: I present it as a “chronicle” or account of the goings-on and interests of Rivendell’s Elves, told from their perspective, and modelled on Bilbo’s Book in appearance. In other words, we strongly encourage contributors to write from the point of view of inhabitants of Middle-earth describing their “world”. However, we recognize that the Kingdom of Rivendell is not entirely set in Tolkien’s world, and that there are OOC aspects to the plaza which can only be reported in an OOC fashion.

The Threefold Goal of the Press

Being a bard, I believe the paper (and bards) serve three purposes. They must inform the reader about the topic, not necessarily covering every aspect, but covering enough to give the reader a basic understanding of it. Articles must entertain a reader so she’ll keep reading. Ideally, articles also inspire/teach the reader, not just telling her what is, but what could be. That’s why I ask contributors to write as if they were in ME— hoping to inspire them, and readers, to embrace more fully the ME environment.

What are we trying to cover?

Who is our target audience?

First and foremost, the members of Rivendell. Secondly, the rest of the plaza: I am constantly trying to explode the idea that Rivendell is a place where people are goofy and “foo-foo”. Thirdly, newbies. The Herald can be a valuable road map for them, explaining and attracting them to various kingdom activities.

Who are our writers?

Members of Rivendell. We seek 1) good writers familiar with the topics, so that we can get well-written articles and 2) to represent our kingdom’s population and give everyone a chance to contribute.

What do we look for in an article?

Something which “brings to life” the topic giving enough relevent detail that even newbie readers can understand and visualize the activity or topic. Again, my three goals are “informative, entertaining, inspiring”. We are not looking for generic praise. We get a lot of “it’s really neat” or “this is an interesting topic” or “everyone should join!” filler that doesn’t, in fact, inform the reader, and is boring to read. It’s like saying ROTK is “cool” instead of describing exactly what about the battle scenes were astounding.

Finally, we treasure brevity, even if I don’t have it. One paragraph for monthly reports, if at all possible, one to three for other things, more if absolutely necessary.

How much editing do we do, and/or what is unacceptable?

I rewrite sentences, cut chunks that are boring and uninformitive, fix capitalization and grammar, and occasionally insert a bit of vital information that wasn’t there. I probably shouldn’t do the latter. What’s unacceptable is raw material lacking the content and information needed to cover the topic, since even rewriting can’t fill in those holes. If it’s so badly-written we’d have to rewrite most of it, that’s no good. If it looks like the author might be able to improve with guidance, I email them back, otherwise I must decide whether the article is a “must have”, in which case I farm it to someone I trust, or whether it’s expendable.

Many thanks to Tinw for the writeup.