Inheritance Writers' Kit

Updated July 1, 2020
I. Story ConsiderationsII. Inheritance Style Guide

I. Story Considerations

  1. Answer the following statement: This story is interesting and worthwhile because ______.
  2. Have a point and get to your point very early in the article. If you take 1500 words and make the last 100 your point, you should consider flipping your article entirely.
  3. Make it personal. Don't overgeneralize your experience to be that of all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Get specific and include personal details, feelings, reactions, and internal thoughts — doing so will help readers care about your story and capture universal struggles and concerns.
  4. Be contextual. Don’t offer statements or reflections that are ahistorical or overgeneralizing. Trace insights to historical, social, political, economic contexts and do your research before offering a recommendation or solution. As possible, remember to honor ancestors and trailblazers who have paved the way to your current story.
  5. Avoid over-spiritualized language. Instead of saying things like "I experienced God's love", explain what God's love looked like. This will help someone, in this case, who has never felt loved by God to understand what that means.
  6. Ask "why" repeatedly. If you can ask a further “why” to a statement or an analysis and still answer it, you have further to go in your processing. Get to the root of assumptions or feelings. You can’t take people to deep insight if you haven’t gone there yourself.
  7. Be more descriptive than prescriptive. Color. Paint a picture. If it was a summer day, what was the quality of light like? Did the sun toast your body? Was there a breeze and what did it do? Invite, but do not tell people what they should do or how they should feel. As an alternative to the word “should,” consider language that invites readers to “imagine” or “envision” possibilities.
  8. Happy balance. Do not make your article 90 percent story and 10 percent reflection, and do not make your article 90 percent reflection and 10 percent story. Find a happy medium.
  9. Keep to your story angle. The magazine is outfitted like a music album, with each piece playing a different role to contribute to a greater, nuanced experience. The specific angle of your piece matters. Should you find that as you’re writing, a more compelling angle emerges, speak with your story producer as soon as possible before the rough draft deadline.
  10. Ask yourself, “What is already happening (in the locale/community/God) and how am I participating/changed?” as opposed to “What am I fixing?”
  11. Keep rhetorical questions to a minimum. If you can answer it, answer it to make a stronger statement.

II. Inheritance Style Guide

AP (Associated Press) Style with some exceptions.  

Asian American: No hyphen in between.

Black: Capitalize when referring to African Americans. White will not be capitalized.

Bible: Capitalize all references to the Bible, including Scriptures, God’s Word, the Word, etc. Do not capitalize the adjectives biblical and scriptural, however.

BIPOC: Use "BIPOC" (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) instead of "POC" to to highlight the unique relationship to whiteness that Indigenous and Black (African Americans) people have, which shapes the experiences of and relationship to white supremacy for all people of color within a U.S. context. (See The BIPOC Project)

Book/Movies/Song titles and other works of art: Put in quotations.

  • “Pride and Prejudice”

Commas: We follow Oxford style for commas in a series.

  • Will wore a green, yellow, and black shirt.

Dark/Light imagery: Avoid using dark/light imagery that reinforces notions of dark as bad/evil and light as good/truth. Aim to disrupt and dismantle racially harmful tropes of anti-Blackness that are rampant in the media, the arts, and dominant discourses.

Em Dash: Use a long dash, with a space before and after the mark.

  • Thousands of children — like the girl in this photograph — have been left homeless.

Ellipses: We do a manual three period marks, and a space before and after the marks.

  • She hesitated ... but continued on.

Mission or missions: Both are correct in different contexts.

  • mission refers to both a particular task and what God is doing anywhere and everywhere, the focus of the missional church movement
  • missions refers to missionary activity or response to the Great Commission, generally overseas
  • mission trip (or mission trips), mission field, and short term missions are grammatically correct

OK: Not “okay”

Pronouns: When referring to a general/universal figure, avoid male-dominant pronouns or use gender neutral/non-binary pronouns. Some examples:

  • They/Them/Theirs
  • Ze/Hir/Hirs

Quotations: In using quotations (""), put the comma or period after the end quote, unless the punctuation is part of the quote.

  • The first class is called "Christ's Culture in the Church", where we talk ...
  • She said, "I love Jesus Christ."

Religious terms: If you choose to, capitalize God, Bible, Holy Spirit, the Word (in reference to the Bible), Lord, Jesus.

  • Avoid using male pronouns for God in general.
  • When God is modified by an adjective, lowercase the modifier (almighty God, heavenly Mother, etc.) Exception: Triune God.
  • When the modifiers referring to God stand alone, they should be capitalized: the Almighty, the Most High.

Sex Work: Use "sex worker", a more inclusive term that represents many of the nuances of the sex trade (and the work and economics of the industry) and is rooted in terminology of self-determination, instead of "prostitute", which is a legal term associated with committing a crime. This does not apply to sexually trafficked individuals.