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Vancouver Estival Trivia Open (VETO) weblog » Blog Archive » Suggestions on how to get started writing

Suggestions on how to get started writing

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If your team writes just one question per day starting today, you’ll have a complete packet ready by the time VETO rolls around.

But sometimes you just can’t think of what to write about; you don’t feel inspired to write anything, but you know that it’s your duty to write something. So here’s where the quiz bowl resources on the Web come to your aid:

  1. Browse through the Stanford Packet Archive, paying special attention to those from more recent tournaments. Packets from previous VETOs are there, but as much as I don’t really like to say it, packets from most other recent tournaments tend to be of higher quality. :/ To get yourself into the mode of thinking like a quiz bowl question writer, there’s nothing better to read than actual full quiz bowl packets.
  2. The point of reading packets in the archive is just to get yourself accustomed to the format, and absolutely not to find interesting clues to reuse. In order to help you find original material to write about, the VETO question guidelines page has tons of links categorized by subject. As you’re writing your packet, you should be making sure you’ve got the right number of questions in each category, and a diverse set of questions within each category. If you need more science questions, for example, we’ve got a list of links on subcategories from astronomy to zoology. Our guidelines also list a bunch of possible types of answers in each category.
  3. Often it’s not enough just to read lots of stuff in a subject area in order to think of something to write questions about. You need to come up with specific answers, and then write clues for those answers. For your convenience, we’ve got a page listing answers to VETO questions from 2005 through 2007. Like the packets in the archive, the purpose of this page is not to suggest that you write questions with those same answers. Rather, the point is to show you ideas on what kinds of things to use as answers. For example, the first tossup answer listed is “Leyden Jar”. If you’re familiar with that, you might think, “Hey, if somebody wrote about the Leyden Jar last year, then I could write a tossup about the Van de Graaff Generator. It does not appear on this list.”

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