the layout for your article. You have a working title, an interesting lead, a few important statistics, excellent resources, and the subsections (or main points) of your article. If you need a review on the major query points, click here.
- Remember, the first draft is just that--a draft-- for your eyes only. (This allows you take general notes without fear of perfection.) You'll utilize it to get your juices flowing, note any items that could be of value to the article, and eventually allow you to organize sections and dismiss any unnecessary notations.
- Writing an article for a magazine, is ALMOST like writing a term paper for school. The most important similarities include: accurate facts, reliable resources, traceable notes (see below) and an organized format. Do NOT underestimate these components.
First, make sure you've included the latest facts available. Statistics change often.
Facts/statistics should come from reliable and respectable organizations. Never utilize statistics from biased companies/people. Find a different or secondary source. Also, never assume any .com website is accurate. One trick is to include .org in your search (typically reserved for organizations, such as American Academy of Pediatrics, National Institute of Mental Health, universities, large hospitals, etc.). Another option is to search recent studies and reliable scientific publications. Again, only use reliable sources--how? Go directly to the source. Who was in charge of the study: a physician at a hospital? Go to the hospital or physician's website. Then contact them for a brief interview. The worst that can happen is they'll say "no".
Most important tip: Interview the direct source WHENEVER you can! I didn't expect to get the lead physician in charge of the tears study for "Cry, Baby", but I did. Guess, what? Despite the various articles written about his study, hardly any journalist had contacted him directly. Instead those authors took their facts from the other articles. Dr. Frey admitted to me that most of the articles covering his study were incorrect. Sad, but true. Taking this extra time ensured a more detailed, more accurate article.
One more tip worth mentioning is to make sure you take excellent notes. Improper or lazy note taking sets you up for serious mistakes, misquotes, and if the magazine fact-checkers find the mistakes for you, you're not likely to get a second chance.
See tips for proper note taking.
Now, the fun part: How do articles often differ from term papers:
By VOICE. Some magazines (such as scientific or technical journals) are more likely to resemble a term paper. However, the majority of consumer articles will have a definite voice or tone. The voice is usually determined by the magazine (or business). Check recent versions at of the magazine at your local library. Are most of the articles conversational? Is the audience directly addressed by using "you" in the sentences? Are articles broken into multiple subheads? Is the tone serious, silly, flirty, etc? Matching the tone is critical if you want to connect with both the audience and the editors at the magazine.