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Working On Your Byline:
Writing Features for Magazines & Newspapers

Facilitator:  Elsie Walker

Workshop Syllabus

Do you wish you knew more about the mechanics of taking an idea, gathering information and forming it into a magazine or newspaper feature?  In this overview workshop, you’ll learn about it by doing it!  First we’ll talk about what feature articles are and then we’ll go through the process of researching and writing one.  The idea is to give you a feel for what goes into creating a feature … think of it as a “jump-start” on working toward a byline.

Week One:

 We start by laying some groundwork for our topic. We’ll look at what a feature article is and isn’t, and how writing for magazines differs from writing for newspapers.  I’ll share a few of my published feature articles as well as direct you to websites where you can read some other examples of features. We’ll end with a reading on idea generation for articles.   Students will come up with an idea or two for a short feature.  For this assignment students will be asked to think of a person, a hobby, a career, or a local organization that they’d like to write about. 

Week Two: 

We’ll discuss getting information for an article. Reading assignments will talk about the different methods of interviewing (in-person, by phone, and e-mail) and the anatomy of a feature.  Based on facilitator feedback from the last assignment, you will gather information to write an article on one of your proposed ideas, determine the angle for your story and write your lead.

 Week Three:

This week we’ll look at the steps in getting words down on paper and what to do when the words won’t flow (writer’s block). You’ll take your lead (revising it if necessary based on facilitator feedback ) and then make an outline of what you want to cover in the rest of article. 

Week  Four:

Based on feedback from your last assignment, you’ll write your article and receive facilitator feedback on it.    

Required Materials: None

Objective:  After taking this course, students should understand what a feature is (and how it differs from a “news” article), know the basics for interviewing sources and understand the anatomy of a feature.  By the end of class, students will have written a short feature article.

 About the facilitator:  A freelance writer with over 200 published articles, Elsie Walker has written for a variety of publications.   Her magazine credits include articles in:  Succeed, Hope, Grit, Seek, Women’s Circle, NJ Tech, College Bound, Byline, The Quiet Hour, Fiddler Magazine, My Little Magazine and Women Alive!  Also, she has been PC columnist for New Writer's Magazine.  (As you can tell, rather than specialize in one market, Elsie writes for a variety of them…educational, religious, journalistic, general interest, juvenile and hobby).   In addition, she is a contributing writer for four weekly newspapers in New Jersey’s Recorder Publishing chain.  Elsie has a Masters Degree in Humanities and teaches two writing courses,  Introduction to Freelance Writing For Magazines and Introduction to Technical Writing,  at New Jersey ‘s County College of Morris.  

Workshop Begins: February 10, 2003
Duration: 4 weeks  
Tuition: $80


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Books recommended on this page are not required reading for participation in the course. Required materials, if any, are listed in the course syllabus.

The Successful Writer's Guide to Publishing Magazine Articles
by Eva Shaw, Ph.D.

While reading "The Successful Writer's Guide to Magazine Publishing," you'll notice that Dr. Shaw has a gift for making you feel as though she's addressing you and you alone. While she offers common-sense advice, and a can-do methodology, she also doesn't sugar coat the fact that writing is hard work. Written in a reader-friendly style, this little jewel is a must-have for all of you who love to write, but never dreamed you'd have the opportunity to turn writing into a profession.

Writing for Magazines: 
A Beginner's Guide

A practical introduction to what a magazine writer does. The book explores the best magazines for beginning writers, how to get ideas,
finding the time to write, setting goals, how to defeat writer's block, and more. The author gives you examples of effective magazine articles, covers the basics of grammar and style, and provides "Jumpstart" exercises to get a writer going.