On Monday the 23rd I will be leaving West Sacramento, my home for the last 15 years. I am moving to Las Vegas to be closer to one of my brothers and also for a change of scene. Having lived in California’s Central Valley for nearly my entire life, I am eager to see new places and new people. The desert awaits.
While my life is being put into moving boxes, I continue to write and to query. I’ve submitted an article on spec to Rock and Gem Magazine and I think we’re moving forward. We’ll see. Fundamental to this experience is the emphasis this magazine places on captions. Their Writer’s Guidelines file (external link) gives the best advice I’ve read on writing them.
Here’s some of their sage counsel along with my comments as a writer, not an editor:
Rock & Gem’s caption style is to use informative, full sentences that tell readers more than they could see by looking at the photo. You cannot leave it up to the editor to write your captions. Only you know why you took the photos you did, so only you can explain what is relevant about them.
I’d add that a writer can still be in doubt. An editor’s experience can be invaluable here since they have years of experience in knowing what their readers want. Perhaps the subject, say sulfur, has been well covered in previous issues. Do I, therefore, want to go into great detail in my captions? Or is every caption unique to itself?
If you have trouble writing an original sentence for a caption, find a sentence in your article that relates to the photo and copy it to your caption file. It’s that easy to write good captions! If you can’t find any text in your article that relates to your photos, you probably need to take new photos.
In years past I tried to add details that weren’t in my articles by putting that information into captions. But is that really a good idea? If I couldn’t fit into an article that New York state’s gemstone is garnet, could I then put that detail into a caption? Or is it out of place, not being in the body of work?
The trend is for any writer to take their own photographs. It is therefore essential that, if requested, we craft captions for our articles. The Rock and Gem file linked above provides plenty of good examples and I’d urge you to check it out.
Photograph by Thomas Wolf, www.foto-tw.de (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons