Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday--The Writer's Porch

The Art of the Article—Part 2

Last week we considered what makes a good article. Your assignment was to study current magazines and think through a topic that you might write about from a fresh new angle.

The steps of writing an article are similar to the skeleton of a devotion. (See Shortbread—How to Write a Great Devotion). Let’s review these sections.

  • Catchy title. Think of a title that will grab the editor’s attention. Tell your friends about the topic of the article, and then give them some “test” titles. Find out which title appeals to them. This being said, it is more than likely the editor will change the title of your article, but right now you are trying to attract the editor’s attention.

  • A great first sentence that hooks the reader. The same rule applies to a great first sentence as it does to a catchy title. You want the reader to keep reading. You want to pull them into the article—from beginning to end.

  • The body of the article should be between 500-1200 words. The body of the article is the point of the article. Write with strong verbs. Show, don’t tell. Allow the reader to see, smell, feel, taste and touch through your words. A good practice exercise is to describe a new loaf of bread coming out of the oven. Show the reader the bread, don’t tell the reader about it.

  • The conclusion. Tie your article together. Many times a writer will circle back to the opening paragraph and join the beginning, the body and the end together. Write a strong conclusion so the reader knows what the take away value is. Readers want to feel satisfied with a closure. Don’t leave your audience asking, “So what?”

  • Perhaps a sidebar. Sidebars have come into vogue. They are short bits of information that are an addition to your article. They are written separately, but attached to the manuscript. They help break up the page and make the written page more appealing to our short attention spans. Again, look through magazines to get ideas on different types of sidebars. I highly recommend using them, as editors are looking for such icing on articles. (Also, sidebars are now being used frequently in Bible studies and some books.) Learn the art of sidebars to put yourself one step above every other article sitting on the editor’s desk for review.

OK, I want you to go ahead and write an article. See if you can garner a great idea and then a write a short article of approximately 500 words. Try to include a sidebar. Next week we will discuss how to get the article into an editor's hands.

Keep the Heart-Print Faith--be fearless in your writing!

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