Advice on Article Sought

I’m working on an article about making nailed (boarded) furniture. The new format at the magazine has restricted columns like mine to 2 pages and I’m having trouble getting the job done in 2. It could be that I’m naturally wordy. I’ve been teased for this in the past and I’m self conscious about it. What I can say is that Americans are particularly succinct. And Americans like Chris Schwarz, educated and trained as a journalist, make revealing a lot of info in a few words look easy. I clearly lack those skills.

(I was recently sitting in an apartment in Rome reading the back of a box of corn flakes. First, the entire back was filled with print. No toy giveaways, no picture of a soccer player, just a lengthy description of how great you are going to feel after eating the contents. And the words were positively gargantuan! That would never pass muster in the US.)

I think there’s more to this than my personal wordiness. I read a lot of woodworking magazine articles. And many or most don’t go into half the depth and detail that I do. There’s an expression (that I never understood) about the devil being in the details (I certainly hope not).

Here’s the part I need your help with: When I I read an article involving a build, I don’t see much detail on how to push the wood through the planer. I guess there’s a technique to that, where you stand, how you avoid dismembering yourself, etc. Does everybody just know how to do that?

I guess my sense is that when I write about cutting a quick dado by hand, I’m not sure if everybody knows how to do that, that there’s a plane for that or how that plane works.

So the question I have for you is am I wasting your time explaining these sorts of processes? Tell me honestly what you think. My sense is that in print, I’m not wasting anyone’s time. You can always skim. I think I’d feel differently about the subject were it a class or a presentation. Of course, in those situations, I often look to provide even greater detail.


P.S.  I don’t find Chris personally succinct like say, a Texan.  He’s just a skilled writer.  Even his lengthy tomes have 10 times more info than I could put in as many pages.

55 thoughts on “Advice on Article Sought

  1. dwd

    Your column is the main reason I keep my subscription to Popular Woodworking. Don’t get me wrong, I love the entire magazine. But I keep the subscription because of the Arts and Mysteries.
    Spend the money. Print more pages. You guys are a printed magazine. The nature of your particular forum is a respite from the hurried “You got all that? Good ’cause I’m moving on” mentality that can come up too often. Yours is, to me, more of a “I love doing this so why on earth would I hurry through it?” kind of experience.
    Don’t change a thing.

  2. rorynidaho

    Adam, “The Devil is in the details” means that the important stuff is in the details, and miss/gloss over/ or rush through at your own peril (the Devil will pop out at you). I appreciate very much your detailed style. I have often thought as I read an article of how many assumptions were made on the writers part about the knowledge of the readers, and you know what is said when one ASSUMEs! It makes an ASS out of U and ME.
    Moving to a max. of 2 page articles? That is a STUPID idea. ie, New kid in the sand box thinks I MUST do something so it appears I am really doing something – even if it is just kicking sand in someone’s face. Again, dumb.
    Tell ’em your writing two articles and use 4 pages. 🙂

  3. davelehardt

    I’m on the side of more detail. As a still green woodworker, the more I information I can get the better. There seems to be alot that’s taken for granted in many articles that leaves me feeling that I’ve missed something critical at some point, either before reading or during.

    I’ve written technical training in a variety of arenas, and I’ve never assumed my audience knew it all. I like it when I find an author who thinks the same way. It’s not insulting, it’s informative.

  4. chrischitty

    I fear I come to this discussion a little late but here goes anyway. I find woodworking to be locked up in subtle details that only start to seem important after failing a number of times. The thing that I value most about the videos posted on the website is the opportunity to observe the small details of body position, grip, angle of attack, pace, etc… This relates to an article in that I would love to know what details are at the front of your mind when doing anything with the hope being that you will be thinking about something that I have been too thick to notice and will thus open up my mind a little further. Hope this helps.

    1. Adam CherubiniAdam Cherubini Post author

      Hi Chris, yes, helps. I write for you and others like you. One of the things I like most about writing for PW is that I take my own pictures, while I’m working and at my own pace. So the pictures have more authenticity. What’s on my bench is what I was using etc etc.

  5. skoonz

    I feel only you and your editor can judge whether you are presenting the information you want to, in a way you think will work. I am leaning toward the muti-part article if needed. Failing that, fight for more room!

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