Thursday, September 18, 2008

How to write an article for a magazine

So my friend Andrew challenged me to write a blog post about "how to write an article for a magazine." As most of you probably know, I've spent the past year as an editor/writer for Baylor Magazine after 3.5 years at AAA World magazine in Philly.

I don't pretend to be an expert on magazine writing -- heck, one of the few journalism classes I didn't take at Baylor was "magazine writing" -- but the best key I've found to a good feature article is letting the subject(s) tell the story.

My two most recent features, "Concerning the Soul" (Baylor Magazine, Summer '08) and "The Art of Football" (BM, Fall '08) are good examples of that. The Spiritual Life story required several hours of interviews with a number of people, while the Briles story came almost entirely from one sit-down interview with the subject. But in both cases, I prepared questions that covered all the possible angles I might want to include in the story, did the interview, then wove the answers together by interspersing my own text to connect one quote to another, filling in any necessary blanks or holes.

Sometimes that text is needed to cover something the interviewees didn't describe, and sometimes it's just to summarize their text. It's also frequently just for transition from one topic to another.

That's the best way I know to explain it. For me, the interview is the hard part; once I've got that done, the rest of it usually writes itself -- particuarly if the subject interviews well. Hope that helps!

I guess I might as well tag on the links to my features from the latest issue of the magazine. Here ya go; happy reading!
  • The Art of Football -- my first-ever cover story! A feature on new head football coach Art Briles.
  • In Their Own Words -- I compiled this selection of journal entries and looks back from students who went on Baylor-sponsored mission trips this summer. Pretty powerful, I think (their experiences, not my work).

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Excellent. Great stuff too! Thanks for responding.