Writing for a student magazine is not too different from writing for an internationally published magazine, but it is worlds apart from academic writing, which most students may be most familiar with.
What is a student magazine? Student magazines are publications made by students for students, circulated within the campus. Student magazines are a vital aspect of high school and college campuses. They serve as the main source of information for societal issues and campus-related topics that students may not read elsewhere.
Budding student writers can get help from a professional writer just as they can get college papers written by online writers, or try their hand at article writing with these tips.
Tips for Writing a Great Article
#1. Choose the topic
Before you can write or get published in a magazine, you will need to pitch your topic. So, topic selection is more important than ever. The topic you select should be relevant to both the student magazine and the student body, the audience. For a student magazine, you may write about a personal experience that may be relatable or relevant to many other students.
#2. Do your research
Even though you are writing about a personal experience, you still need to conduct ample research. Ideally, you should have way more data and quotes than you could use for your article. You should have a strong understanding of the subject matter so that you can explain concepts clearly and simply without it hampering your storytelling.
What kind of research should you conduct for a magazine article? You should conduct as much research as you would for an academic essay. Read up on online and offline articles about your topic. If possible, interview experts. If the topic is a social issue, you may also interview others for their opinion. It’s important to get a wide variety of sources to get a more or less objective view of your subject before you start writing. You should become a sort of expert by the end of your research.
#3. Decide on your angle
If you followed the previous step, you should be practically buried in information about your topic. The next step, then, is to choose an angle or how you want to approach the topic. Think of it as the camera lens, which means that you can fit only a certain number of details, which will then inform how your audience understands the topic. For this reason, your angle should complement your purpose for writing the article.
Ultimately, the angle is the filter for the information you have gathered. As mentioned, you cannot fit in every single detail in an article. To achieve your goal without overwhelming the reader, you will need to present only the most relevant information. Consequently, the best way to do this is by filtering out information through your angle—that is, to select which pieces of information are useful for your angle.
We cannot overstate the importance of an angle any further. Given its significance, you may want to try out different angles for your topic before settling down on one. This way, you will know which one fits your topic and article best.
#4. Outline your ideas
Once you have chosen your angle, it is time to outline your ideas. Some writers prefer a word map or a word dump—it’s up to you. The point is to organize your ideas so that you know how they are related and how you are to present them in the article. For instance, this is when you decide the best spot to present an anecdote or a quote from an expert. This also ensures that you do not forget any important aspects or details as you write.
The outline-making activities you endured in basic English will surely come in handy here. Make sure that your article has a beginning, middle, and end; and all your ideas are connected in a logical way. This step is the perfect time to test out your ideas for organizing your article.
#5. Hook your audience
No matter how important or relevant or well-written your article is, readers will not read it unless you manage to pique their interest from the start. Technically, writers have two chances to hook the audience—the headline and the hook or the first line of your article.
The title of the article, or the headline, is the first thing that readers see about your article. It is the first impression. The headline, thus, should catch their attention, inform them of the topic of the article, and get them interested enough to read it.
The hook, on the other hand, is the first sentence of the article. Like the headline, it should be interesting enough to keep the readers reading—hooked, as it were. How can you achieve this? You can either write a bold statement, lead with a question, share an action-packed story or anecdote, and/or form an emotional bond with the reader.
#6. Write for your audience
Perhaps the biggest question you have about writing for a student magazine is what voice or tone to take while writing. As a writer, however, you surely have your specific voice when you write. Naturally, you should use that voice when you write. However, you also need to consider the readers as much as your purpose when you write. For instance, you can write with a tone of urgency if you are writing about a topic that you feel is unfairly ignored.
Similarly, you may choose to use jargon or technical terminology when you are writing for an audience who are experts in the topic or, conversely, write as if your audience knows nothing if they are not experts.
#7. Follow the magazine’s style guide
Article writing is certainly different from writing a paper for Literature class or a research paper for biology. What they have in common, however, is that both follow writing standards. For academic writing, it may be APA or MLA, but for most magazine publications, including student publications, it is the Associated Press Stylebook, often called AP style. Although, some publications have their house styles, which writers are expected to follow.
As a writer, then, you are expected to learn this style guide and implement it in your writing. But don’t bother with the style guide during the writing process. That would stunt your flow. Apply the style guide after, when you are editing. However, be keen on the details.
#8. Edit, edit, edit!
Regardless of how long your article needs to be, don’t write unnecessarily long sentences. Be succinct and upbeat. Remember: you are a student writing for fellow students with 5 deadlines hanging over their heads, not James Joyce. If you are the type to write extremely flowery essays, edit your article heavily. Always go for punchy sentences and remove unnecessary words and details. If a word or sentence doesn’t contribute to your article, remove it. Be relentless!
Is there a topic you want to write about? Get to writing and don’t be afraid to submit it to your student magazine!