Constructing an article

Writing about something you enjoy can be a real labour of love. If you have the ability to impart your enthusiasm and expertise to a like-minded reader, your pleasure will be increased immeasurably by seeing your words on the pages of your favourite magazine.

Constructing a readable article is, however, not as easy as it looks. First you must study your chosen magazine and familiarise yourself with the length and style of their articles. Your opening sentence should give a clear indication of what the article is about and once you begin writing, keep to the point and don't get sidetracked.

If, for example, you are a recognised connoisseur of real ales and you want to explain how to assess a prize-winning pint, you might open the article with something along the following lines:

With the growth in popularity of real ale, brewers are becoming highly competitive. Brewing a prize-winning pint takes skill and dedication but by following a few basic guidelines, you can find yourself up there with the front runners.

Anyone reading the article would be in no doubt as to its content and having caught their attention, you now hold it by taking them step by step through the promised guidelines.

Your closing paragraph should bring the article neatly back to the beginning, finishing with something like:

Follow these few principles and before long, your ale will take its place on the list of home-produced, award-winning real ales.

You could add to this a list of competitions and national events open to real ale brewers and drinkers but very little more would be needed other than some captioned photographs to illustrate the piece.

A simple framework of an article is set out in Figure 2. The main constituents are:

♦ a good, attention-grabbing introduction

♦ a middle, arranged in a logical order, which keeps to the subject and delivers the information promised in the introduction

♦ an ending which rounds the article off, bringing it logically back to the beginning.

INTRODUCTION

(Beginning)

Introduce the subject, go straight to the point, e.g.:

'With the growth in popularity of real ale____'

CONTENT (Middle)

Keep to the point of the article, dealing with each relevant item in a logical order, e.g.:

♦ How to assess the quality, i.e. 'Points to look for...'

♦ Tips for brewing your own prize-winning ales.

♦ Where to find good ales.

END

Round off article by bringing it back to the beginning, e.g. 'Follow the basic principles and before long, your ale will take its place on the list of home-produced award-winning real ales.'

Fig. 2. Framework for article.

Fig. 2. Framework for article.

Ideally, your opening sentence should be shorter than all the rest and should grab the reader's attention by immediately telling them what the article is about. The more technical the magazine, the more factual your article should be.

Illustrations in the form of colour slides, photographs or diagrams are always useful. These should be sensibly captioned, so that it is clear what section of the text they relate to, something like:

A judge samples my latest brew. Expanding your idea

From one article idea can spring several more. Perhaps you could follow up the first article with an interview with a brewer and this in turn might lead to a visit to a beer festival and yet another article about that. Before long, you could find yourself becoming a regular contributor to a whole range of magazines.

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