Getting featured and long-form storytelling

By Courtney Campbell

As Style Editor for both The Pendulum and The Edge I thought it would be important to learn a bit more about distinguishing the writing in the articles between the paper and the magazine. “Writing Magazine Features — And Getting Them Published” was by far my favorite session I have gone. Mark Mayfield has been an editor at numerous magazine publications and was super insightful.

He reminded us that “Writers write. A lot,” especially those that are creating more long-form feature pieces that I want to push. As writers we are storyteller, which is why for features pieces we should take a more narrative approach with ledes that open like a book. He also recommended getting uncomfortable and choosing topic that you’re not familiar with or are quirky, so I’m thinking of a few ideas. Anyone want to check out the cadaver lab with me?

Here are his five major tips for features writing:

  1. The lede should go from specific to general like a novel
  2. Focus on a person, scene or environment that illustrates the main point. Maybe hang out there for a while
  3. The nut graph should not come earlier than the 3rd or 4th paragraph, but no later that the 8th or 9th
  4. Follow with supporting material, quotes and details. Also NEVER start with a quote, unless that person is God
  5. Make sure you have an ending, preferably one that refers back to the lede

Mayfield also gave a few tips of freelancing for magazines that you should learn what they represent and who to contact before pitching a story idea. Most importantly we should actually READ to become better writers, so I’m planning on grabbing a copy of “The Prince of Tides” (his favorite novel) for the plane ride back.

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