Writing a magazine article can be overwhelming particularly with today’s rise of online media. There is no easy way to retrieve facts and information or rewrite it as soon as it goes to the printing machine. However, seeing your name on the byline of the article is a gratifying reward.
Whether you are writing for a travel feature or a celebrity interview, you must consider the degree of journalistic requirement needed in magazine writing. Magazine writing is more than putting words in print, but you have to publish an effective piece.
The following are helpful advices to write well-written magazine articles. This is perfect for those who are new in magazine writing as well as to those who wants to improve their writing skills.
Read few issues of the magazine
Have you seen how many magazines are there in the market? Even those that seem to fall in the same category like fitness and entrepreneurship are different from each other. Hence, even before you pitch your idea to a magazine editor, it is a must to read few issues of the magazine. Reading the magazine you wish to contribute to is also a great way to kick start your writing.
Why is this so? Each magazine has their own “voice” and you will notice that they have this certain style in presenting their ideas. As a magazine writer, you need to produce a piece that is similar to the rest of the magazine.
From reading and researching about the magazine, identify their target readers. Is the travel magazine writing for budget or luxury travelers? Is the parenting magazine’s main readers composed of single parents?
By doing so, you know who are the target reader of the magazine. From there, write for the magazine’s readers and you will be delivering a highly relevant magazine piece.
Find a good angle
The big question is, “ What should you write? ”; even with an editor giving you the topic, some editors don’t include the angle of the story in the brief. Take your time brainstorming for the best angle of the story.
A good story angle doesn’t have to be a new topic but a fresh take on an existing topic. For example, the party island of Ibiza has been countlessly featured on travel publication; a good angle would be non-party attractions and things to do in Ibiza. Often times, writers think that they have to write something new – a new place, a new business- but the truth is, you don’t have to. It is all about the angle of the story.
Make an outline
After recognizing your article’s angle, it is time to write an outline. Articles like those to be printed must be well organized – it is not as easy as Carrie Bradshaw’s character painlessly narrating her thoughts while typing on her computer. Start by answering the basic – Who, Where, When, Why, How questions. With an outline, you can finish your article faster.
Spend time on research
Successful magazine writers spend less time writing. They devote their time and energy researching on their piece. Once printed, it is not easy to edit and make an erratum compared to blogs and other web content. Research is very important, as it not only provides factual information but also give more substance to an article.
Let your readers follow you
Today’s readers have shorter reading attention. Hence, it is a challenge to keep them writing until the end of your piece. Grab their attention with your introduction. You can use anecdotes or a quote to start your conversation with your reader.
Let your readers keep on in every sentence by painting a picture with words or giving vivid and creative descriptions. Still, be careful with word usage. Never overdo your descriptions, be concise. Use user-friendly words – refrain from using difficult words.
Support your ideas
Give more weight to your article by providing facts. Depending on the type of articles you are writing, thrown in interview statements. Go back to your research notes and look for vital information. Readers love trivia; sprinkle a little on your article.
Craft Great Endings
In any article or written piece, the ending can be tricky. Some like to have a conclusion or summing up all their thoughts. How to have a good ending? For magazines, give your readers a short ending statements.
Endings for magazine articles often suggest an upcoming story of the angle or simply a subtle end of the conversation between the reader and the writer. If you find this part a little difficult, throw a question to your reader. Or you can use a famous line or quote to sum up your thoughts.
Follow the required number of words.
During editorial meetings, editors have allotted how much space one article will use in one magazine issue. Thus, if your editor instructs you to write an 800-word article including sidebars, please stick to it. Reaching the number of words is not a problem among magazine writers but sticking to it is.
Writers often get carried away with all information they have that they don’t mind exceeding 300-400 words. Exceeding your word limit means giving more work on your editor. If you waste your editor’s time trying to chop off your article, you may not be getting writing commissions in the future.
Edit, Proofread, and Revise
A cardinal rule, deliver polished magazine articles that has been edited and revised. From typos and grammar errors, check for coherence. Streamline your thoughts. Cut three sentences into one if possible. Remember, magazine articles have to be concise, brief, and direct to the point. If you exceed the number of words, make some necessary revisions.
Edit and proofread at least twice. First check for grammar and typos. Put a good time gap between finishing your work and editing. For example, if you have finished your piece in the afternoon, start editing and proofreading after a few hours or the day after. Why? This will give you are fresher outlook, giving you a chance to be at the reader’s end while editing your own work.
Writing for magazines is fun. It requires less research compared to books and journals and the tone of writing is less tedious. Still, it requires journalistic level of writing to be effective. Follow this guideline and you will definitely impress your editor.