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