June 11, 2010, Newsletter Issue #206: Nonfiction

Tip of the Week











Below are several archived tips from the “Non-Fiction” category.  Though some tips have been edited by the current guru, James Gapinski, most are the original creations of past Life Tips gurus.
 
Before you sit down to write
 
Make a list of what you have and don’t have to write this article. Are you working
purely off personal experience? Are you embarking on new territory and need background info and interviews? This pre-writing housekeeping will help you focus your research and may save you time and painful rewrites.
 
Keep an articles journal
 
Clip out articles that speak to you or seem examples of good writing. Place them in an articles journal. If you have time, jot down a few thoughts on your entries. When it comes time to write and revise your own articles, you can consult the pieces in your journal for inspiration and direction.
 
List your experiences and curiosities
 
Create columns on a piece of paper, with headings HIGHS, LOWS, EPIPHANIES, PASSIONS, and THINGS I’D LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT. Go as far back as memory will allow and fill each column with as many entries as you can. Highs and lows should be self-explanatory--those moments that made you sail or brought you down. For epiphanies, you will want to focus on turning-points--those events that caused a major change in thinking or lifestyle. Obviously there will be some overlap across these three categories.
 
When you’ve got five or six for each column, take a look. These are your stories. Pick one that grabs you at the moment and set to work.
 
Online resources for magazine publishing
 
Magazine Publishers of America
www.magazine.org
 
Writer’s Market
A comprehensive resource that will point you to editors, agents, and will help you find homes for your work. Available online and in print.
 
http://www.writersmarket.com/index_ns.asp
 
Get a magazine collection
 
Start collecting issues of magazines you would like to publish in. You can buy them individually at bookstores, or get a subscription (saves you $$ if you consult the mag often.)Read cover-to-cover for a good sense of what the publication is looking for.
 
Interviewing options
 
The best way to interview is in person. You can audiotape, get a sense of the person in their natural environment, and interact with them on a more relaxed level. However, for the shy or time-pressed, phone interviews are often a good answer. You’ll need to prepare just as if you were meeting your source in person, even though you don’t have to change out of your pajamas.
 
Email sources can be an option as well, if you’re having trouble landing a meeting with the source. I personally like to save it for follow up questions, but if you don’t need extensive information it can be a quick way to get some questions answered.
 
Do I need one?
 
Unless you’re writing from personal experience (using your own voice), a good interview or two can be the difference between a skimpy article and one that punches (and sells!) To be on the safe side, set up a one-on-one with a reliable source and meet with them. You can always cut their info in the final draft if you don’t end up needing them.
 
Freelance Writing Sources
 
Occasionally freelance writing sites will post jobs for fiction writers. However, creative writers are luckily enough to find work in all sorts of areas, from marketing to blogging. Below are some links to a few popular freelance writing sites.
 
http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com
 
http://www.odesk.com
 
http://www.freelancewriting.com
 
http://www.guru.com
 
http://www.craigslist.org
 
Prepare and consult an articles journal
 
Clip out articles that speak to you or seem examples of good writing. Place them in an articles journal. If you have time, jot down a few thoughts on your entries. When it comes time to write and revise your own articles, you can consult the pieces in your journal for inspiration and direction.
 
Prepare & consult an articles journal
 
Clip out articles that speak to you or seem examples of good writing. Place them in an articles journal. If you have time, jot down a few thoughts on your entries. When it comes time to write and revise your own articles, you can consult the pieces in your journal for inspiration and direction.

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