6 Tips that help you write Magazine Articles

sean P. Durham - post on writer's Doubt

Choose a Topic that is of high interest to you. There’s no point writing about something that makes you fall asleep at your desk. Writing Magazine Articles can be well paid, this can often lead writers into the false idea that they should be able to turn their hand to any subject and spin off an article in a day and then pick up a fat cheque. This doesn’t work. editors don’t want writers who just bang out a piece and then demand the cheque. They want interesting pieces that will grab the readers attention and lead them into reading the full article.

1. Be sure to choose a topic that fires you up inside.
You are experienced and probably adept at doing something that could be useful to other people who are trying to find information about that subject.
Make a list of your own passions. Whittle down the list to the ones that really fire you up. You may find that one day to the next is a different feeling about what grabs your attention, so keep the list in your notes for later reference.
You want to write something where your passion will show through. Editors and magazine or content readers will feel this in the finished work.

2. Choose an interesting angle to write from.
Everything has been written, over and over. You won’t find an original idea to write about but you can take any topic and work it into something unique if you work on a new angle – or an angle that hasn’t been used for a while.

Think deeply about the subject and approach it from different tangents of thought. Imagine using the idea in various situations in life and see what new perspectives about the subject come up during the thought process.

You can write the first draft from your initial thoughts and knowledge, but then work on the angle and perspective. Push it until you find something that sparks and you may just have found your angle.

3. You are writing about what you know.
That doesn’t mean that research is unnecessary. Things change, names and uses of ideas and objects get updated, do your research and check your facts. You may be surprised how much you learn about a topic that you thought you were an expert in. Research, fact check all of the time. If an editor likes your idea and then takes a look at the article, she may do a couple of fact checks to satisfy her curiosity before buying your article.

4. Create and Outline for your Article

The first step in getting to work is to create and outline. Sit down and begin with a list of simple facts about your subject. As you write you will get a sense of what should be ordered and how.
Allow the creative juices to flow, don’t stop to check on ideas just let your brain relax and write the whole piece through. It shouldn’t take you too long if you avoid stopping to think too much and check on things. The objective is to create a beginning, middle and end for your piece. You will be surprised at how a bunch of words that have some sort of form, and are on paper help you to begin organising your article more efficiently.

Once you have the basis for the article written down, look for the led, the title line. Try a few catchy or informative outlines that will cause a hurried reader to stop and take a look at your article. You want a headline that will peak their interest to the point that they want to find out what the next couple of sentences say.

5. Depending on which type of article you are writing you should think about the format of your writing.
If it’s news, it should follow the structure of journalistic information. If it’s a “How To” or similar, then you are free to work the article into a shape that suits the subject. Small paragraphs, short sentences with poignant expressions that are enjoyable to read and inform the reader about the subject. Think about who your reader might be.

If you intend on sending the article to a specific editor you should know a lot about that magazine. Who reads it? What level of expertise does the average reader have on the subject – you want to help them learn more, not teach them to suck eggs. Check the magazine’s articles and find out about word-counts. Where in the magazine do you hope the piece will fit in? Don’t forget to be entertaining as well as informative. People don’t read dross.

6. Check for Style and Word Count
Magazines have styles that they follow. Most common in the United States is AP Style. There’s a book that you can buy and get to know the rules by reading it. Or, you can find a lot of the information online. The U.K. uses very similar styles but may vary according to the publication. Check the magazine for style tips. You can search online with the question about what style a particular magazine uses and you should be able to find it, quickly.
Style is agreed by the editors of magazines and news. It’s not a personal thing where you develop a style of your own. It helps a magazine to develop voice and editorial solidity in its expression.
You can find out a lot about the tone of a magazine by reading various articles that have recently been published in it, and reading the editor’s introduction at the front of the magazine. His or her voice will be a reflection of what they are looking for in freelance articles.

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