Grab your readers attention
How many times have you sat in the dentists waiting room, opened a magazine, read the first paragraph of an article and flicked over to the next page? Now think about the times that first paragraph grabbed your attention and you carried on reading. That is the sort of article you want to write.
Identify your reader.
Most aircraft enthusiasts will read my article A Brief History of the P51 Mustang and think, yes I know that – tell me something new. Someone visiting an air show and seeing the plane for a first time might read it the history in the programme and think, that’s interesting.
Research your market. Most magazines will have a house style. The editors will know their target market and what their readers want to know.
If you are writing articles for photographers, are they beginners who want to know the basics or more advanced who may want to know every f stop and shutter speed?
Showing and telling
Showing is when you use your senses or reactions to an event or scene. Slow your writing down, describe what you heard, smelt, tasted and your reaction to what you saw. If you are recounting another person’s experiences, ask them questions or read accounts to try and find out how they felt.
Telling simply presents a factual piece of information and moves the article along which leads me to …
Love language – Avoid clichés.
The aircraft went up like a rocket. The sunset was beautiful. The Quol Sharif mosque is stunning. As writers and photographs we know that a picture is worth a thousand words (oops there’s another one) so use your writing to show your reader what they cannot see from a picture; the history, the sounds, what it feels like to see, smell, hear a place or touch an object.
The aircraft arced almost vertically into the blue sky, flashes of sunlight glinting on its silver wings and the beat of its Merlin engine echoing across the enthralled crowd
The oranges and reds of the sunset reflected on the calm Mediterranean and all I could hear was the gentle slap of waves against Chania’s ancient sea wall.
The minarets of the new Quol Sharif mosque tower above the walls of the Kazan Kremlin announcing that this is predominately a Muslim city.
Write about what you know (and what you would love to know)
You may have gathered from this site that I am an aviation and enthusiast (OK nut) as well as a photographer and a writer. I write a lot about these subjects primarily because I have a good knowledge of them. That does not stop me writing about anything else I find interesting; history, travel, different foods; I just have to do a bit more research.
Get your facts right.
Do your research; check the sources of your facts. The internet is a wonderful resource for research but so much of it is inaccurate or just plain wrong. Even when cross checking several sources always bear in mind that they can all have copied one another. If you cannot go there, see it or do it get a quotable first-hand source. If you cannot establish exactly what happened, for example when writing in an historical context, quote and compare more than one reliable source.
Quoting from other writers is not plagiarism but always recognise your sources. Provide a link to any articles you have quoted when researching you own.