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A Writer On Writing: Article Writing

"Remember there are many, many more markets for articles than fiction or poetry – so why not give it a go?'' writes Sally Jenkins.

The other week I ran an article writing workshop for my writers’ group. I’m not one for speaking in front of a group and so was a bit concerned about how it might go. However, once I got going and the participants started asking questions, I began to relax and enjoy it.

We started off by analysing the pile of magazines that we’d brought with us:

• Comparing staff names on the masthead to the by-lines on the articles to see which were written ‘in-house’
• Looking at the adverts to get a feel for the readership of the magazine
This raised the problem of the expense of buying magazines to search for markets in this way – especially since it’s necessary to read around 3 consecutive (and up-to-date) issues in order to spot the regular columnists and get a proper feel for the content. Unless you live near a large, well-stocked library there’s no easy answer to this – other than begging, borrowing or stealing from your friends. What do other people do?

Once each of us had established a potential market, we brainstormed a list of ideas that we felt might make an article for that magazine – trying to stay away from the obvious well-worn themes. This was the part of the evening that I found really interesting. There was a wonderfully wide range of feature ideas – displaying sides of my fellow writers that I never knew existed. Without giving too much away (because I hope they’re all going to write-up their articles) these included:

•Activities for winter evenings
•Dog-related issues
•The significance of one lady’s mother’s choice of wedding date
•Railway memories
•Multiple Sclerosis

We went on to draft a short email pitch to the editor before the chairman rang his bell and our time was up.

There are a couple of useful blogs that include generous advice on article writing and are well worth a visit:

•Simon Says! http://simonwhaleytutor.blogspot.com/
•Mistakes Writers Make (And How to Put Them Right) http://mistakeswritersmake.blogspot.com/


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