As a kid/teen, I wrote short stories and read tons of magazines: Boy’s Life, Baseball Digest, Twilight Zone, and MAD Magazine. My parents knew how to keep me occupied on long road trips.

In college I studied English, read newsletters, and wanted to write novels, though computers also intrigued me. People told me I should go full force into the software industry. I knew BASIC and dBase and C, but thought doing so would mean walking away from creativity. Then the spring of 1987 happened.

I read a series of lengthy articles on dBase compilers and C programming in the old PC Tech Journal and Dr. Dobbs Journal. I studied them over and over until I could quote them from memory. The examples helped me fill in the gaps on specific technical areas.

But beyond that, I also sensed a creative tone, a healthy swagger in the writing that inspired me and helped me realize how much fun I might have in this industry. Later that summer I decided that this was my calling: developing, and hopefully writing. Many people can point to formative experiences that shaped their career: that was mine. Twenty years later, here I am (with a long list of people to thank).

A few readers have sent me e-mails, describing how they’ve used content from my Baker’s Dozen column in their applications. To all of you, I’m very grateful. All of these experiences reinforce my belief in the value of articles as a great medium to help get people up to speed with something.

Additionally, some who are interested in writing have asked me questions about building articles. So I set out to share my thoughts and my M.O. (in my case, “Madness Operandi”). As I begin writing my ideal recipe for building an article, I had to confront the fact that I haven’t always heeded my own advice. So my 13 tips for building an article are not only suggestions for new writers, but also as a reminder for myself (in other words, therapy for the therapist!) Here we go:

So I’ll try to follow my own advice as I tackle my next set of articles, which will include productivity tips for SQL Server 2005, ASP.NET, the new ADO.NET Entity Framework, and a comparison of Crystal Reports and SQL Server Reporting Services.

Peace, and great software.

Kevin S. Goff