For enquiries or submissions, please contact Francie Healy
The Anglican Editors’ Association and the Anglican Journal are inviting all Canadian Anglicans to participate in a readership survey. PLEASE take part, even in the absence of an active Dialogue. You can base your answers on the last few issues of the paper before it was suspended. It will help in the development of Dialogue’s future. Dialogue needs you!
Here’s the link to the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Anglicanreadershipsurvey
Photo guidelines for Dialogue (and a few tricks)
We are happy to receive colour or black and white photographs, either “hard copy” or digital. However, they must be sharp, clear, and high-contrast photos. If they’re digital, they must be high resolution, and they must be sent as separate files (not in the body of an email or document). They need to be original, no matter what their form (hard copy or digital). We can’t use photocopies or photos that have appeared in other printed publications. We also can’t use them if they have have appeared on the Internet. Not only will the resolution be too low. If they’re not legally ours or yours, we can’t use them without permission.
We always want to know that parents or guardians have permitted the use of children’s photographs, so if you are not the parent or guardian, please get permission first.
We always like to know the name of the photographer so we can give credit.
Those are the technical things. Now for the things that make a photo memorable and usable in Dialogue:
- Get up close. Closeups are always better than far-away shots. This is especially true when you are taking pictures of people or animals. Faces are always more interesting than hats, boots and bellies.
- Look for the plainest background you can before you take the picture. This isn’t always possible, but if you have a choice, choose a plain light-coloured background – not a window. A window, on the other hand, can provide lovely soft light if it illuminates your subject. If you have no choice and must take a photo in daylight where there’s a window in the background, use a flash, no matter how bright the room is.
- Don’t feel you must keep everything in the middle. Perfectly-centred shots can be predictable, even boring. If something seems a bit off centre, and you like it, leave it that way.
- Try to capture emotion. Getting in close helps. Try to see the feeling in people’s eyes, or to capture the spirit of a smile. This means you may have to talk to your subjects a bit to help them to relax and be natural. Better still, catch them “in the moment”, when they’re not posing for you – they’re just being themselves.
- Generally speaking, don’t take a picture of any more than three people at a time. Group photos are sometimes necessary as a record, but they don’t make good pictures for publication. By the time they’re sized into a two-column space and gobbled up by newsprint, it’s hard to see anyone’s faces. So, for instance, if you’re at a Confirmation, a closeup photo of the bishop shaking the hand of someone just confirmed, or sharing a laugh with someone … or a closeup of the face of a parent or grandparent as they watch the ceremony (capturing emotion) can tell the story better than a group of people whose faces you can hardly see. Group photos are important for history and scrapbooks, but they’don’t work very well in a publication.
- Churches can be terrible places to take pictures. If you must, use the best flash you can, and don’t even try to take anything other than a close-up, because it will be lost. If you can arrange to take photos outside the church or even in the reception hall (if the walls are light-coloured) before or after the event, you’ll probably have better luck.
- Turn your camera. Vertical photos can be really interesting. We like to have a selection of both horiontal and vertical shots.
- If you’re taking pictures of children or animals (or people much shorter than yourself or sitting down), position yourself so you’re at their level. This can mean getting down on one knee or simply pulling over a chair and sitting on it while you take the picture.
- If you’re taking pictures of buildings, be creative. Shoot up towards the roof and capture some of the sky and clouds. Stand at the corner of the building and shoot from that perspective. Get up close and shoot an interesting architectural detail. Sometimes simply a door can make a beautiful photo.
- Always look for photos that show activity. Static photos can be boring. If you want to take a picture of a Sunday School class, for instance, take pictures of the children doing something. Don’t try to corral them into a group. Get up close! Photograph the face of a child who is painting or making a sculpture or reading a book or listening to a story.
- In many cases, it’s better if your subject doesn’t pay much attention to you. There is no rule that says people have to look directly at the camera and say “cheese”. No rule at all!
Writers’ guidelines and general writing tricks
- All submissions to Dialogue must be unique to Dialogue. That is, they have to be written for this newspaper and not for anyone else. After a story has appeared in Dialogue, it’s okay to use it elsewhere. We would appreciate a credit line that says: “This story originally appeared in Dialogue”.
- Stories or columns should be no longer than 400 words. Once you know that, it’s easier to plan the story before you begin to write it. You’ll probably find that planning makes you pay attention to what’s really important, and helps keep your words simple. Hopefully it will also encourage you to keep sentences short. A trick: don’t let yourself use any adverbs, and keep the adjectives to a minimum. Another trick: Tell yourself you will not use the words “as”, “since”, “while”, “because” or any other “joiner words”. You’ll find, once you pay attention to those nasty, sloppy little words, that they tend to make sentences ramble, get tangled, and become ambiguous.
- We welcome columns/opinion pieces, but not necessarily on a regular basis. We try to use them when we can, but that’s as far as we can go. We give priority to our “regulars” who have been writing for years, and our readers expect them – Diana Duncan-Fletcher, Sandy Cotton (The Deacon’s Bench), Lisa Russell (Archives) and Win Perryman (Amnesty International) for instance. It’s best not to hope that anything will appear monthly without fail, and nothing in the text should indicate that. We can’t make promises either to our writers or our readers. This is standard procedure for most professional publications.
- Stories must have a focus and an approach – just one, no more. So, for instance, if you’re writing about an event, it should only be about that – without any opinion at all. A story about an event must be treated as a story, and never as an advertisement.
- If you’re writing an opinion/column, it must focus on your thoughts and conclusions and nothing more. It should only be an opinion. It should not also be about an event or a person. The event or person can be mentioned, of course – but only “in passing”. An opinion piece shouldn’t be ABOUT the event or person. Stories that include news about events, or profiles of people, fall into a different category – news stories and features.
- Generally speaking, if you are writing about an event, you should use the third person and not bring yourself into it at all, even though you were there. (This “rule” sometimes gets broken with reports from the ACW and so on. In fact, There are always exceptions to the “rules”, but they are left to the discretion of the editor to sort out depending on context, approach, and style.)
- If you are writing an opinion piece or personal essay, that’s when you should be using the first person.
- Any story must be accurate. This means no “guesses” about what someone felt or saw or experienced. If you are writing about a person, the person must tell you directly what he or she felt, saw, or experienced, and you can quote him or her. But don’t make the mistake of telling readers, for instance, that so-and-so dreams of going to the moon or losing 20 pounds or whatever – unless the person tells you that face to face and you can write it down word for word. Then you can quote those words exactly if it suits the story.
- Check your verb tenses. This sounds like an obvious thing, but those pesky tenses can creep up and take over unless you’re on top of them. If you’re using past-tense verbs, stick to them. If you’re using present-tense verbs, stick to them. In general, you’ll find it’s much trickier to write in the present tense, and usually not a good idea for that reason (except, of course, when present tense verbs appear in direct quotes – for example: “I’m not very good at fly fishing,” Mr. Jones said, “even though I am always learning what I can from my neighbours.”)
- Keep your thoughts clear and organized. Trick: Before you start to write anything, jot down the things you most want to say. Create a kind of “grocery list” of ideas or statements in order of priority. Make yourself write each item in your list in fewer than 12 words. It’s a challenge, but your brain will soon show you what’s critical and what isn’t.
- Stories or columns/opinions must be for the benefit of the readers only, and never overtly for the writer or anything the writer is involved in. They must be as objective as possible, and not tied to any particular “agenda”. We won’t use them if it’s obvious they are promotional material for any person, group, committee or whatever.
- All stories and columns will be edited by the editor. All will be proofread by a professional “outside” proofreader. We are sticklers on “clean” copy.
- If something needs to be edited in a major way or rewritten, we try to run it by the writer first. Sometimes this isn’t possible due to time. However, all our writers are told from the start that stories have to be within our required word count. If they go over that (and they sometimes do), the stories will be edited for length if we run out of space. Sometimes we’re lucky and longer stories will fit. But there are no guarantees, so it’s better to write it short first rather than have the editor cut it later.
- Once in awhile a significant feature story will be longer. This happens at our discretion, depending on the story itself and its relevance or readability.
- Stories must not be formatted. We need to receive them in a simple Word document, preferably in Times Roman, single-spaced, with no special treatment – no headlines, no indentation (other than at the beginning of paragraphs, if you wish) no bold-face, no justification, no footnotes – no formatting at all.
- Try to write the way you speak – the way you might tell someone at your kitchen table, over a cup of tea. We really want to hear your own voice. Editing will happen, but always with great respect to the voice of the writer.