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Magazine Articles: The Ten Golden Rules

  • By Steve Dempster
  • Published 03/23/2008
  • Article Writing

Most magazines, especially women’s magazines, are full of feature articles. If your aim is to write this kind of article, here are ten rules that will help put your work at the top of the pile! For most people, magazines are a treat, a small indulgence that they buy for themselves as a little luxury. For some it’s a contented lunch or evening read. These readers expect to be entertained, informed and amused so features need to be sharp and to the point whilst still being readable and interesting. The following ten points will help you, as a writer, craft your features to fit almost any niche in any magazine feature article. 1. Do your own research. Magazine editors are savvy creatures and they’ll spot a composite, internet-trawled piece a mile off. I’m not saying don’t use the web for research – just make very sure that the article your write is truly yours and in your own ‘voice’. 2. Study the trends of the magazine you’re writing for. A good place to look is in the ads columns – who are they targeted at? What kinds of products do they feature? This can give an you an excellent idea of both the magazine’s typical reader and what style of writing you may have to adopt. 3. Use the first paragraph to tell the reader just why they should read your feature article. Explain the core of your article here and get all the article benefits in as early as possible. 4. Don’t leave any questions hanging in the air. This article is yours – you are the expert of the moment and your reader will expect everything you say to be accurate and informative. Don’t be vague on any points – do more research and find the answer! 5. If you are reviewing a product, try and test it personally. Rather than give sterile specifications and measurements, include your opinion – but make it clear that it is your opinion. If you have had a product on test, give a verdict. People will expect it.

6. Keep your writing style as simple as

possible. This may not be easy if your article is all about particle physics or celestial mechanics but avoid using flowery language and overlong words. Your readers don’t want to have to refer to a dictionary to understand what they’re reading! 7. Give some thought to what the people feel who buy the magazine your article will appear in when they pick it up from the newsstand. Most readers say that a magazine is definitely a form of diversion and some comfort they’re seeking. It’s up to you to help fulfil that need. 8. Try to be as much like your readers as possible. If they can’t identify with you as a person, they’re unlikely to have any great interest in what you write, no matter how topical or potentially interesting it may be. Also – don’t brag. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have a second home and an ocean-going yacht – don’t boast. Readers need to feel empathy with the writer, not be alienated by their snobbery or smugness. 9. If you are lucky enough to be writing your feature article about a celebrity you have interviewed, try to throw in one or two surprise questions. Not embarrassing ones, of course – more along the lines of ‘If someone stole your handbag/wallet, what would you miss most?’ Such questions give an insight into the person being interviewed and add a great deal of interest. Avoid shallow, meaningless questions such as ‘Do you prefer tea or coffee?’ – they tell the reader nothing about the subject. 10. If you find yourself being asked to write on a well-known theme, try to surprise your reader with some little-known fact about the subject. Readers love surprises! Here the internet can be a boon, with such sites as Wikepedia providing some truly obscure facts about the commonest subjects. However, it’s always a good idea to validate your facts by checking with at least one other source – you don’t wish to be known as the writer who got their facts wrong on their chosen subject!

The above points aren’t an exhaustive by any means but, if you adhere to them when writing your feature article you won’t wander far from the mark and the magazine editor will appreciate it too!



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