A FEW BASICS ON ARTICLE WRITING
If you want to write a good article it helps if you abide by a
few basic journalistic rules. Besides, it is always a good idea
to place yourself in the position of your reader. Ask yourself what
you want to read in an article about the subject you are about to
handle. And ask yourself what you don’t want to read in it.
A proper article for a magazine or website consists of a number
of components: The article has a title and sometimes a subtitle,
a lead and a bodytext. In some cases subjects that need highlighting
are placed in a special section. A title should be plain and simple:
it lets the reader know what the story is about without beating
around the bush. The subtitle can be used to entice the reader into
reading your story. This can be done by picking a quote from the
story, or by making a statement that leaves the potential reader
with questions that have to be answered.
(title) Yukon steelhead
(subtitle) Seven wonderful days in hell
This was the announcement for a story about a group of fishermen
that landed somewhere in the Canadian wilderness. Their plane broke
down and they were stranded in hostile territory, but with a virgin
steelhead-river close by.
A story is always preceded by a leader. This is a short piece of
text (between 50 and 100 words) with a special purpose: to let the
reader know what the story is about. It is in fact a summary of
the story. In most cases the leader is used by potential readers
to decide if a story is interesting enough to start reading. Keep
a leader to the point.
The real article is called bodytext. When writing your story follow
a clear storyline with a beginning meant to draw the reader into
the story. The middle-part should be informative and the end-part
conclusive. To make a bodytext easy to read, divide your story in
parts with a sub-header to explain the content.
Stories about fishing trips often follow a chronological path. As
reader you are meant to follow the journey from the visit to the
travel agent until the hugs and kisses from the loved ones when
the writer returns home. For the reader this means that he will
find the real action somewhere in the middle of the article.
Most readers won’t bother: they have better
things to do. If the logistics of your trip are important, put them
in a special section that is not a part of the actual story. It
is always a good idea to start your story with the best part of
Put the reader in a boat, holding a fly rod with some angry creature
on the other end. This will wet his appetite to read on.
And, to want to know more about a destination that can provide
adventures like the one you are describing. When you have wet the
appetite, you can continue by stating: ok, so we had this action.
But this is what we had to do to come this far. This is where the
informative part starts.
Even the informative part of an article may never become dull.
You can prevent this by deepening your information, using anecdotes:
‘Use a reel with plenty of backing. I found this out the hard
way when I hooked a threadfin from the beach……’
A good story has a strong finish: a message to
the reader, a wish or a strong conclusion. Let the reader know what
your (it is your name above the article) conclusion is: ‘flying
back looked down on the landscape and saw the creeks and sandbars
that provided us with lasting memories.
And to the north and south and scattered in between those wonderful
fishing-places, I saw many more that we didn’t visit.
It left me with an itch that can only be cured by returning.’
I am not going into the technicality of photography with an article.
But if you supply your own photos with an article, be sure the
photos cover the same subject as your article. By referring to
the article in your captions you emphasise that article and photos
complement each other. If you write about a day's fishing in the
summer, don't show winter pic's. Show the locations you visited
and don't just show people holding fish. Add some variation in
the photos you supply. And remember the rule that the people on
your photos are having a good time.
Article writing in easy steps
- Be creative with finding an angle. Ask yourself:
why should I want to read about my day out, my trip or my special
- use the building blocks of an article in the way
they were intended:
title: what is the story about?
Subtitle: why is this story especially interesting?
Lead: a summary containing the five W's: who, what,
where, when and why
Bodytext: with a proper build-up, a teasing start
to draw you right in the story, a sturdy middle, telling the
story and a conclusive end
Put important information like travel info, names
of outfitters, tackle-dealers and so, in a special section.
Remember that the reader has to be able understand this section
without having read the full article.
Captions with the photos:
Article 1 Don't show summer pictures if your story is set in winter
Article 2 A photo of the setting of your fishing trip livens up
Article 3 If you show a guy holding a fish, try to put some variation
in the angle
Article 4 Or use a more detailed shot and always keep an eye on
Article 5 People on your photos should show they're having a good
time. But there's always the risk they overdo it.
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