How to Write a Magazine Article

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Writing a magazine article is a delicate balance between news and story. In this lesson, you will learn how to write a magazine article from start to finish.

Background

Magazines are always looking for the next best article to engage and increase their audiences. Learning how to write a magazine article from start to finish can help you land a magazine writing job, get an 'A' in journalism class, and teach you the proper format for nonfiction writing. In this lesson, you will learn about the main components of a magazine article including finding the idea, the introduction, the middle, and the end.

Getting an Idea

Before you can start writing a magazine article, you have to come up with an idea. An idea can be generated from anything that you are interested in, and it should be relevant to the audience being written for. Magazine editors need articles that readers are interested in and that have timely, cultural context.

Here are some great ways to come up with article ideas:

  • Read the local newspaper to see what issues are arising at the local level.
  • Check out what major events are coming up in the next six months.
  • Read scholarly journals.

After you've settled on an idea, begin by drafting an outline and performing basic research before writing the article.

The Introduction

The introduction to a magazine article is the most important component of the article. The lead and the nut graph are the two main components of the introduction.

The Lead

The lead is the 'hook' of your article. An article must start by pulling the reader into the article. A lead tells the reader what the article's focus is through a vivid set up that may include a scene, dialogue, statistic, question, or action. It can be brief or long. Regardless of the length, it must draw the reader into the 'world' of the article and provide perspective.

Here is an example of an engaging lead from Adam Miller's The Horatio Street Murder published in Mountain Spirit in 1992:

'In the driving rain, 67-year-old Lucille Chasin left her first-floor rear apartment at 76 Horatio St. in the West Village. The 'Mayor' of the usually quiet, tree-lined street didn't need an umbrella--she was protected from the elements by a body bag.'

This lead draws you into the story in two sentences. The reader knows that the article is about a crime and about the woman who has been murdered.

The Nut Graph

After you've written the lead, the nut graph is written. A nut graph is straightforward, providing the 'who', 'what', 'when', 'where', 'why', and 'how' of the article. This is the one segment of your article where you can substitute the notion of 'Show, don't tell' with 'Tell, don't show.' The nut graph should be clear, concise, and void of descriptive details.

The Middle

Writing the middle of a magazine article requires finesse. A successfully written magazine article seamlessly combines interview material, researched evidence, exposition, and description. The middle of a magazine article varies from one article to the next depending on the type of article that it is. Types of magazine articles include service pieces, profiles, investigative articles, and personal essays. Let's take a look at what each of these types are and what they would have in their bodies:

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