Construction Articles

While my mum’s here, and the railroad room is temporarily given over to its guest room function, I’m working on a few articles for Model Railroad Hobbyist.  My recent rant about the tedium of North American model railroad magazines is still fresh in my mind, and it’s making me wonder if I can steer clear of the trap.  How can we describe a sequence of steps so that there is an engaging narrative and perhaps a little entertainment?

Along the way, I’ve been thinking about other literature that skirts the same trap.  About the best parallel that I can think of is biography.  Lots of people enjoy biographies, and there must be some that stand out for their writing, and not merely because they describe an inherently interesting individual.


6 thoughts on “Construction Articles

  1. Rene:

    You write well and it is enjoyable to read and often quite thought provoking. The idea that model railroad magazines are out of touch with current oportunities to use mixed media and direct interaction with the author is interesting but I have to take a bit of a contrary view.

    First I believe that editors are absolutely necessary. Too many articles are either cut to the wick or ramble on. Worse are those that cliche and really don’t add anything new – you know the type.

    Photos now are cheap in digital form but videos can be exhausting. I can rarely watch more than a couple minutes. Someone needs to write a script, plan the shots, and edit out the excess.

    The second point is with regard to prose content, and as you point out – entertainment. Maybe I’m old school but I enjoy reading articles on operation, history, planning, concepts, and many other subjects that do not need photos or videos to explore. My 2c’s.

    I agree completely that a descrcription of “why”would be way more interesting than what was done. The “Layout at a glance” is interesting but overdone, way overdone.

    One thing that I find as I become an older modeler is that I have more specific tastes and interests than in the past. A music teacher once told me to focus on what got me interested in playing a (full in the blank) instrument and explore that. If I try to learn everything about every era and genre then I become the master-of-none.

    1. Thanks Neil,
      Your comments regarding editing of both text and video are spot on, and I won’t disagree that some articles should have more text – just not construction articles.
      I’ll have to think about design and operations articles another time. Some of them may be interesting, but again, they are seldom entertaining. I find they are difficult to get through unless I have an interest in the specific topic of the article.
      I will take issue with your specificity of taste, though. Sure, nobody expects anyone to be a master of every topic, but by exposure to a broad spectrum of ideas and techniques, we learn much that we can apply to our own narrow strip of the world.

  2. Rene, I had not read the original blog post, MRJ is very much an exception rather than a rule, but its a good point. Our modelling press, although having quite a large selection, is getting a bit stagnated. Sometimes I read stuff and I genuinely believe I have read it before as its either almost copied or edited to sound identical. Oly

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