I know what you’re thinking, “I already know the 5 W’s. Just get on with it!”

True, you do know them, but you do not know my 5 W’s! My version is a wee bit expanded. O.K. It’s a lot expanded, but most can be answered in one sentence, and still give the judges plenty of specific information. Here we go…

The “5 Ws” I look for are a little bit expanded:

What is the item? (be specific, show pictures of historic pieces)
What was it used for historically?
What does it do?
What is it used for in today’s SCA?
What could this item be used for in the “Modern World”?

When is the historic example(s) from? (be very specific about dates, and don’t guess)
When was this item made?

Where was the historic item made? (continent, country, county, city; the more specific you can be the better)
Where was this item made? (this is not a necessary thing in the documentation, but it can sometimes be interesting)
If this item is not European, please tell why and how it would have been found in Europe at the time (pre 17th century).

Who made this item historically?
Who would make this item in today’s SCA? (not the specific artist, but a group of people; ex: the scribes make scrolls)
Who used this item in historically?
Who would use this item in today’s SCA?
Who would use this item if it can be used in the “Modern World”?

Why was this item made historically?
Why was this specific item made? (ex: I made this for my friend so they could hang it on their wall.)

How was the historic item made? (Include the tools and materials used to make it; ex: craftsmen of the time would have used a purple widget to tighten the green do-hickey.)
How was this item made? (Include the tools and materials used to make it, ex: I used the blue thing-a-ma-bob to tighten the green do-hickey as the purple widget is no longer available.)
If you used modern materials and tools, please tell us why.
If you handmade your tools and materials, include that.
If you purchased any tools and materials, and that was historically done for such an item, tell us that, too. (ex: I purchased my vellum, as the craftsmen historically did, and I live in a city and didn’t want to smell up the neighborhood and make my neighbors mad.)

Does this piece do exactly what it’s meant to?
Does it look, sound, feel, taste, smell like it’s supposed to? (If it’s an item that you’re not supposed to hear, feel, taste or smell, don’t use these senses in your documentation.)
Does it function correctly?

What did I Learn
What did I learn about this piece?
What did I learn about this process?
What did I learn _________?

What Would I do Different Next Time
If you intend to make this piece over or not, this is an important section for the judges to know what you would do different if you were to make this piece again, or if you were to make another similar one.

Putting it all together:

Now you’re probably wondering, “How the heck do I get this into a 5 paragraph form?” Fear not, my friend! I have that figured out, too!

The 5 paragraph form:

Paragraph 1: Introduction, briefly say what you’re going to say – 3 to 5 sentences.
Paragraph 2: “What”, “When”, “Where”, “Why”, and “Who” (This can be made into two paragraphs if you do an historic information paragraph and a modern information paragraph).
Paragraph 3: “How” and “Does”
Paragraph 4: “What did I Learn” and “What Would I do Different Next Time”
Paragraph 5: Conclusion, briefly say what you said– 3 to 5 sentences.
There are your 5 paragraphs, and your documentation. If you include all of this, it will be at least 2 pages long, with no problem, and should make the judges very happy. (Check your Kingdom’s Competition Rules for length specifics. Atenveldt allows type written 7 pages, not including images and bibliography.)

Next week, we will discuss the finishing touches!

Hopefully Helpful,