Writing for Magazines --Part 8

By June Campbell

Part 7: Developing an Outline

When writing for magazines, or when writing any other material for that matter, the starting point - before you write a single word - is to identify your main message in one or two sentences. Then you decide the key points you will make to support your main message. This is your outline.

For example, before I began writing this short article, I took some time to decide what my message would be. And there it is in Paragraph One. This article's main message tells you that you must identify your main message and decide upon the key points for delivering it.

I call this The Two Sentence Advantage.

If you can't state your article's main message in no more than two sentences, you're not ready to begin writing.

Once you know the main message, make a brief outline. You might do this on paper or you might simply have an idea of your outline in your mind before you start. Otherwise you will waste a great deal of time writing and rewriting and possibly end up with an article that makes sense only to you.

How often have you read an article but had problems understanding what the writer was getting at? Perhaps the message truly was over your head. Let's face it. We all have limits in education and in the level of material we can comprehend. However, there is a second possibility. The article might have been difficult to understand because it was poorly written.

And this brings me back again to the Two Sentence Advantage. Once you have this in clear focus, your chance of writing an "understandable" article go way up.

Now, regarding the rest of the outline and to show you how an outline works to your advantage, I invite you to examine this series of articles on writing for magazines. Before I began writing, I created an outline. I used Microsoft Word and developed a bulleted list of points that I wanted to discuss.

I ended up with 13 key points in my general outline. I can use those 13 points several ways.

First, I can write one relatively long article covering all thirteen points briefly.

Second, and this is what you are now reading, I can create a series of short articles with each devoted to one bullet point.

Third, I can develop this outline into an email course or other type of course, adding assignments as required.

Fourth, I can write a report with each of the bulleted points becoming the report's sub-headings.

Fifth, I can write a book or ebook, with each bullet point becoming a chapter.

Obviously, the amount of supporting material will differ in each, with the book containing the most material and the single article containing the least.

Now you have your outline. Your next task, when writing for magazines, is to decide how best to cover this material while observing your word count.

If you are challenged to cover these points in your word allotment, you can go in two ways:
1. You can include each point but reduce the amount of descriptive information for each. 2. You can decide which points are most important and eliminate the others.

Finish your article by summing up the main message.

Now for the next step on your way to writing for magazines. ... Tightening Your Writing

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