But first, a writing quip from Natalie Goldberg about writing discipline — because having the discipline to write is the key to a successful writing career
“I hear people say they’re going to write. I ask, when? They give me vague statements,” writes Goldberg in Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft. “Indefinite plans get dubious results.”
Make a writing schedule, fellow scribes, and stick to it. Boring advice…but it works. If you want to write all types of articles for magazines, read Writer’s Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing. It’s got everything you need!
And, read on for eleven types of articles to write for magazines….
The How-to article
Examples: “How to Make Money Blogging for Writers” or “How Freelance Writers Earn a $100,000 Every Year” or “How to Fix Writer’s Block and Make Your Writing Sparkle.” How to’s are my favorite type of feature articles — they simply tell readers how to do something.
How-to magazine articles:
- Make a rousing promise of success
- Describe what you need in easy to follow instructions
- Give step-by-step directions (sometimes with subtitles)
- Include shortcomings or warnings
- Tell how to locate supplies
- Give proofs and promises
- Make referrals to other sources
The Profile or the Interview
Examples: “The Real Natalie Goldberg and Her Real Writing Career” or “Anne Lamott Shares Her Secret Writing Tips and Tricks.” Profiles and interview are two different types of magazine articles to write.
Profile and interview articles:
- Have different definitions. In a profile, you use additional sources, such as friends, family, kids, neighbors, colleagues. In a profile, you interview the source him or herself.
- Can have a theme or focus.
- Can be presented as a “Q & A” or a written article.
- Require strong interviewing skills for the “best” information
The Informative or Service Article
Examples: “How to Write Query Letters for Magazines” or “When to Find an Agent for Your Book” or “Writing Quips and Tips From Stephen King.”
Informative or service articles:
- Focus on one unique aspect, or the “handle”
- Describe what-to, how-to, when-to, why-to, etc.
- Answer the journalist’s who, what, when, where, why, and how questions
- Can end with a “how-to” piece as a sidebar
Examples: “Stephen King’s Ghostwriter Reveals Secret Writing Career” or “95% of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing is From a Ghostwriter!” Those aren’t actual feature articles — an expose is simply a type of magazine article.
The exposé article:
- Shocks or surprises readers
- Includes statistics, quotes, anecdotes
- Can range from how extension cords can kill to new info on Watergate
The Human Interest article
Examples: “Anne Lamott Share Her Experience as a Single Working Writer” or “Mark Twain’s Great-Grandaughter Finds Her Writing Niche.” This type of feature article interests the majority of readers of a particular magazine.
Human interest articles:
- Usually start with an anecdote
- Are often chronologically organized
The Essay or Opinion Piece
Examples: “What I Think of Natalie Goldberg’s Decision to Retire From Her Writing Career” or “Anne Lamott’s Writing Mistakes.”
Essay or opinion articles:
- Usually revolve around an important or timely subject (if they’re to be published in a newspaper or “serious” magazine)
- Are harder to sell if you’re an unknown or unpublished writer
- Can be found on blogs all over the internet!
Humor or Satire (difficult types of magazines articles to write)
Examples: ”Ode to Stephen King’s Typewriter” or “What Natalie Goldberg Wore When She Started Her Writing Career.”
Humor or satire articles:
- Usually have a specific audience, such as the readers of The Onion
- Are usually written on spec (that is, you submit the whole article before the editors or publishers will accept it)
The Inspirational Article
Examples: “How You Can Change the World With Your Writing Career” or “13 Tips to Improve Your Writing Confidence.” This is probably my second most favorite type of feature article to write.
- Describe how to feel good or how to do good things
- Can describe how to feel good about yourself – this type of article can work for anyone from writers to plumbers to pilots
- Offer a moral message
- Focus on the inspirational point
The Historical Article
Examples: “The Typewriter Mark Twain First Used” or “How Freelance Writers Once Submitted Articles.”
- Reveal events of interest to millions (which means at least one of my examples wouldn’t work as this type of article)
- Focus on a single aspect of the subject
- Are organized chronologically
- Tell readers something new
- Go beyond history to make a current connection
The Round-Up (one of my favorite types of magazine articles to write)
Examples: “12 Fiction Writing Tips From Authors and Editors” or “1,001 Types of Articles to Write for Magazines.” This is my favorite type of feature article to write.
- Gather a collection from many sources
- Focus on one theme
- Offer quotations, opinions, statistics, research studies, anecdotes, recipes, etc.
Research Shorts for the “Front of the Book”
Examples: “How Alliteration Affects Your Memory” or “What Anne Lamott’s Writing Does to Your Brain Waves.” Shorts aren’t really a type of magazine article, but they’re a great way to get your foot in the door and learn what articles editors will pay to publish!
- Describe current scientific information
- Are usually less than 250 words long
- Are often written on spec (at least by me)
- Are fast, effective ways to earn money as a freelance writer – if you can find the right markets
If you’re having trouble getting your writing career going, read Need Writing Experience? How to Get Clips and Get Published.
Thoughts or questions about writing these types of feature articles? Comments welcome below…