As a writer it can be difficult to effectively showcase your work to prospective employers, educational institutions or for any other multitude of reasons. There is the dilemma of choosing which pieces to include and whether to write new material for the purpose. But in the digital age it is so important to make a good first impression and hold your readers attention. A strong opening piece can be the difference between landing an interview and going through the shredder. Whilst we cannot tell you exactly what to open with, we have compiled a list of common mistakes and faux pas many writers are guilty of regardless of their experience.
Don’t open your portfolio with:
1. A Musical Number
Regardless of the shininess of your jumpsuit , the innovative arrangement of David Bowie’s Life on Mars for a 40 piece orchestra, or the stunningly nimble backup dancers it will inevitably get lost in translation to the written word. Maybe save the money you would have spent on doves and the time spent on hand sewing sequins and put it to better use. Wipe off the sparkly face paint, turn off the smoke machine, buy yourself a new computer or a couple of hundred lattes and sit down and write something a little less, umm… audio visual.
It’s just not helpful and it tends to alienate people. Save your bigotry for the employee lounge after you get the job.
3. Hardcore Harry Potter Fan Erotica
Yes, we all see what you did with that wand euphemism, well done. Nobody outside of your niche forum needs to read that, you are just making everyone uncomfortable. Please keep all theories you have about Snape and Hermoine’s implied hidden romance to yourself.
4. Personal insults
Whilst it can be humorous to lightly poke fun at your readers, it’s important not to go too far. Questioning their taste in reading your work might be self deprecating and amusing, however avoid statements like “What are you doing reading this steaming pile of rubbish you total wanker?”, this may put people off.
5. A Buzzfeed Style Clickbait List
Give your readers a bit of credit. Whether you are writing your portfolio to show potential employers, as part of an education program or to impress that barista you’ve been trying to chat up, it’s important to remember that the person reading this has seen every trope and writing cliché under the sun. Just churning out patronizing “content” is not going to cut it. It’s lazy, you’ll look like a jerk and undermine everything else in your portfolio.
6. Windings (or boxes if you haven’t installed the font yet)