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Lou Jenkins is the award-winning author of
Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting
"If you combined the lyricism of Annie Dillard, the vision of
Aldo Leopold, and the gentle but tough-minded optimism of Frank
McCourt, you might come close to Amy Lou Jenkins.Tom Bissell
author of The Father of All Things
"Sentence by sentence, a joy to
Phillip Lopate, Author of
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Writing for magazines
12 Point Checklist for Writing Feature Articles
1. Have you selected your intended subject topic and
carefully planned out your idea?
2. Have you sent your idea query pitch to magazines or
newspapers who may be interested? or will you write
With many magazines and newspapers now accepting material
online it is now possible in many instances to email
your queries directly to the publication. Have you read
the publishers guidelines carefully to make sure if this
method is acceptable?
Before sending your query pitch:
- Is it likely to be what the publisher needs: have you
studied the publication?
- Is the timing right. Have you checked the magazines
editorial calendar? If it is a seasonal article is now
the best time to send your query?
If you have answered yes to these questions then package
your idea into an attractive proposal and send it off to
the editor of your chosen publication.
3. Have you adequately researched your topic?
Read everything you can on the topic from all available
sources - bookstores, newspapers, libraries and internet
sources. Never discard anything about your subject topic
since you don't know until you write it up what you may
actually want to use.
Tip: Saving magazines, newspapers and clippings for the
subject matter can save time when researching future
writing assignments on the same topic or when working
to deadlines. Catalogue all your collected material
for easy reference.
4. Have you interviewed the key person/people you need
for your proposed feature?
Now it is time to organize your material into a feature
5. Have you discarded everything in your research except
for factual information?
True research and liberal use of factual material gives
an original perspective to your feature article and also
avoids the possibility of plagiarism.
6. Have you checked and cross-referenced your facts amongst
your various sources.
7. Have you decided on the length of the article? Have you
checked the length is suitable for the publication you are
sending it to?
Tip: Do not waste the editors time by sending a 2000 word
article to a publication that requires articles between
8. Will you use quotes in your article? Quotes and
antcedotes bring a story to life. Are the quotes from a
reliable source and have you double checked that quotes
used are acurately recorded?
9. Do you have a good lead, middle and ending?
10. Have you proofread and edited your article to achieve
the best possible version through re-writing your drafts
to arrive at your final version?
Have you made all corrections and necessary changes, have
you checked spelling (this includes people and place names)
grammar, punctuation etc?
11. If the feature is to be visual - have you provided
the appropriate photographs, art work, line drawings,
or other graphic illustrations to compliment your feature?
This increases the payment amount you can expect to
receive if you are a feature photojournalist or travel
feature writer who can offer original photographic
perspectives of your subject topic.
12. Have you included everything in your envelope before
sending your article to the publisher (including photos
properly packaged) or, if the magazine or newspaper
excepts online submissions have you given everything a
final check before hitting the send button?
Jill is a freelance writer and photographer and a member
of the New Zealand Freelance Writers Associtaion (NZFWA).
She owns "Net Writing and Publishing Success" a resource
center for home business entreprenuers, information writers
and self publishers. You may view this site at: