Writing For Magazines

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There’s more to writing for magazines than getting your name into Cosmopolitan. Thousands of new magazines are launched every year and it’s a big market for freelance writers. In fact, it’s even bigger now that so many magazines have an online presence. So, how do you go about writing a magazine article that will sell?

What Magazine Articles Do

I admit, I didn’t know this when I wrote my first magazine article, but most magazine articles do one of four things. They inform, adding to your knowledge about a subject. They help you to solve a problem. They persuade you about a particular viewpoint. They entertain you. Some articles do more than one of those things at the same time.

How To Structure A Magazine Article

When you’re ready to write then you need to think about structure. With magazine articles, you can move beyond the inverted pyramid of news. Instead, you can build to an important point or scatter important points throughout the article.

Tell A Story

The key thing to remember is that you’re telling a story to your readers. That means you need a beginning, a middle and an end. It also means you need to think about where you’re taking your reader and create a logical path to that end point.

Beginning Your Magazine Article

The first thing you need to do is get people to read your article, so you need to find a way to grab them. When I interview people, I often start the resulting article with a quote or an anecdote from their life. However, you can also set the scene or use anything that will get attention.

The Middle

With most magazine articles, you talk to a person or people. People like reading about other people, so if your interviewee says something good, use a quote rather than reported speech. This makes your magazine article more interesting.

Ending Your Magazine Article

Finally, end with a bang. This could be an important point, a revelation, or another anecdote or quote. The idea is to satisfy your reader and to get that reader interested in your other writing.

Extra Credit

When you research an article, you often have information left over that didn’t make it into the main piece. Don’t get rid of this. Use it to create a sidebar or table (editors will love this), or as the starting point for another article.

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11 thoughts on “Writing For Magazines”

  1. [I’m revisiting this page today while planning a forum post that will resemble a magazine article.]

    The idea of “telling a story” is a good one. I happened upon it last year when I visited a site offering advice for fiction writing. The “three-act” form seemed like an interesting model for structuring a short non-fiction piece, so I tried it and it worked pretty well for me.

    Act I identifies the ideas that will be considered. If they may be new to the reader, they need an explanation. By the end of the act, readers should see a problem, conflict, or opportunity–something that needs resolution. This will be the article’s main “character.” They should also know if the rest of the article is even worth reading.

    Act II explores the problem, showing examples, describing subtleties, maybe analogizing to a similar but more familiar problem. If it’s a conflict, readers want to know how it came about and why it remains a conflict. If it’s an opportunity, they need to know if taking advantage of it is harder or easier than it seems. And, the march toward resolution progresses as helpful or limiting new ideas are introduced. The transition made by the main “character” (the problem) in the second act is from defined but poorly understood to well understood. Readers see the deeper texture of the problem/conflict/opportunity and have developed their own ideas about resolution.

    Act III resolves the problem. The pieces are lined up, and readers have at least an inkling of how it will play out. The main character–the question at hand–is understood, and auxiliary characters–available devices and limiting constraints–are known. Now the writer puts it all together. “Here’s why the California wildfire season was so devastating this year.” “Here’s how to achieve world peace.” “To make a perfect cup of coffee every time…” BTW, your advice to end with an important point, revelation, anecdote or quote has helped me past the awkward feeling of “how the heck do I end this thing?” a few times.

  2. I have been writing since i was 5 years old and my talent can’t be put into word; i want to launch my own magazines and televison station. Lately on televison ther has been reruns of shows that’s been on air since the 60’s and 70’s I think the entertainment world need something fresh and I can bring that to everyone in all age ranges.

  3. Finally i’ve decided to be what i’ve been seeking for years. Yes,i want to explore more about myself,entertain people,relocate dirty mentalities,alter the vision and make people speak through my words.
    I can do it through my poetry, my views, my thoughts,and everything that doesn’t bind my mind.
    I don’t wish to put a full stop to this discovery.
    I want to write. Just let me know how can i pour my views in your ears.

  4. Buona sera,

    So it’s time to use the pen to capture life and translate it into something worth reading and applying to every day living? Great. That’s what I love to do.
    Years ago I found myself sitting on the edge of a twenty foot wall overlooking the Tirrenian sea as it graced the island of Sardinia. My gaze fell upon an ant which in an instant was blown off the wall to the rocks twenty feet below. A thought came to mind: that little creature suddenly was transported to another dimension and without understanding it the ant now had a brand new reality.
    It simply adapted itself to its new circumstances and went about unincumbered in another world previously unknown. Granted, brother ant only has a walking, carrying, and fighting chip for a brain, but there’s a lesson there for all of us. If we can flow with the changes that come our way simply as part of this interesting experience called life, we will be the better for it and if we are as fortunate as brother ant, we just might find our realities change for the better. I love Sardinia.
    Hey, let me know how I can make some money doing what I love!!!


  5. if there is anything that annoyes me its magazine that all say the same just in defferent ways, for example how to loose 10kg in just three days, or a slimmer you just in three days. just move along. talk about the reality in life. feelings of a person just write something normal for peet sake. let men know what they are doing wrong, and let woman know what they are not doing. be creative, please.

  6. What should i say? the world is moving along, i’m stuck in my ways.
    Now, lets not profit…ha, ha, ha, what’s not money?
    but where could this go? if i was to move with yall, how would i know…
    just who is me? a stand still. like being in another room, my heart is away. to rid of you. to look for new. if change is to advance with time. i’ll never be cool. my guardians and overlookers taught me to stay. stay real to myself, if it killed you, but hey! that is life. right?

  7. Who doesnt love a great story and isnt it great when you read something and you make your meanings of it. You see yourself in situations where the article is not only informative but makes you think a little deeper, understand a little more and gain more insight.

    I have enjoyed writing articles and agree that a story works well. My company works with Schools, Teachers, Parents on such topics as Bullying, Cyber Bullying, Destructive Peer Pressure and Low Self-Esteem. When I am reasearching for an article I always find it so interesting to hear peoples stories and the “Why” – because we can all see the effects of the how in these situations, but we all want to know the “Why” and only then, when we fully understand that, can we move on to make solutions.

    I always think of the audience when I’m writing, who is going to read this, what do I want them to take from this, how can I inform them in the most powerful way and how do I make mine “different” from other writers and something that people would want to spend their valuable time reviewing. And most of all, enjoy the experience of writing as its a great way of expressing information for others to grow.

  8. well im new to writing but my stories are about changing the way society treats the council estate people and i want to begin by giving them a chance to tell the world of there reasons for there label given by authority figures as underpriveliged of society i will tell of the new age of society were our people will rise up against the authorities and expose those whos prioritys are to manipulate there positions in society to manipulate the less priviliged into living there lives without a voice and repeat there behaviour on others no longer will our people turn a blind eye its judgement day for all who have used authority positions to hide there sick enjoyment i will also have witness statements and evidence that will also expose those law enforcers lwho failed to comunicate with the victims we believe our law abiders protect those who break the law and give them more respect than those who abide by the law you will see how when people are when they are asked there opinion of the justice system that why should they respect a law who supressess our peoples opinions last but not least you will hear just how peoples lifes have become affected in our society by the decisions that are mkade on there lives xxx

  9. writing is my passion. i feel relieved whenever i write about something that bothers me. it’s a one of a kind art for me. it makes me more mature and it helps me a lot in my course. i am glad that i am taking AB mass communication because i can use my skills in writing. i love words and phrases.


  10. I love writing and reading stories or articles on relationships, men and emotion. I feel these experiences can have a huge impact on our lives and I do have a lot to say about this. Having worked as a relationship advisor in India where arranged and even forced marriages are perceived as the norm I can introduce new notions to the Western side. I have other diverse views and coming from a mixed background of race as well as religion allows me to be versatile in my approach.

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