Writing The Article

Writing The Article

Just as​ a​ builder would hesitate to​ erect a​ house without a​ carefully worked-out plan,​ so a​ writer should be loath to​ begin an​ article before he has outlined it​ fully. in​ planning a​ building,​ an​ architect considers how large a​ house his client desires,​ how many rooms he must provide,​ how the​ space available may best be apportioned among the​ rooms,​ and what relation the​ rooms are to​ bear to​ one another. in​ outlining an​ article,​ likewise,​ a​ writer needs to​ determine how long it​ must be,​ what material it​ should include,​ how much space should be devoted to​ each part,​ and how the​ parts should be arranged. Time spent in​ thus planning an​ article is​ time well spent.

Outlining the​ subject fully involves thinking out the​ article from beginning to​ end. the​ value of​ each item of​ the​ material gathered must be carefully weighed; its relation to​ the​ whole subject and to​ every part must be considered. the​ arrangement of​ the​ parts is​ of​ even greater importance,​ because much of​ the​ effectiveness of​ the​ presentation will depend upon a​ logical development of​ the​ thought. in​ the​ last analysis,​ good writing means clear thinking,​ and at​ no stage in​ the​ preparation of​ an​ article is​ clear thinking more necessary than in​ the​ planning of​ it.

Amateurs sometimes insist that it​ is​ easier to​ write without an​ outline than with one. it​ undoubtedly does take less time to​ dash off a​ special feature story than it​ does to​ think out all of​ the​ details and then write it. in​ nine cases out of​ ten,​ however,​ when a​ writer attempts to​ work out an​ article as​ he goes along,​ trusting that his ideas will arrange themselves,​ the​ result is​ far from a​ clear,​ logical,​ well-organized presentation of​ his subject. the​ common disinclination to​ make an​ outline is​ usually based on​ the​ difficulty that most persons experience in​ deliberately thinking about a​ subject in​ all its various aspects,​ and in​ getting down in​ logical order the​ results of​ such thought. Unwillingness to​ outline a​ subject generally means unwillingness to​ think.

The length of​ an​ article is​ determined by two considerations: the​ scope of​ the​ subject,​ and the​ policy of​ the​ publication for which it​ is​ intended. a​ large subject cannot be adequately treated in​ a​ brief space,​ nor can an​ important theme be disposed of​ satisfactorily in​ a​ few hundred words. the​ length of​ an​ article,​ in​ general,​ should be proportionate to​ the​ size and the​ importance of​ the​ subject.

The deciding factor,​ however,​ in​ fixing the​ length of​ an​ article is​ the​ policy of​ the​ periodical for which it​ is​ designed. One popular publication may print articles from 4000 to​ 6000 words,​ while another fixes the​ limit at​ 1000 words. it​ would be quite as​ bad judgment to​ prepare a​ 1000-word article for the​ former,​ as​ it​ would be to​ send one of​ 5000 words to​ the​ latter. Periodicals also fix certain limits for articles to​ be printed in​ particular departments. One monthly magazine,​ for instance,​ has a​ department of​ personality sketches which range from 800 to​ 1200 words in​ length,​ while the​ other articles in​ this periodical contain from 2000 to​ 4000 words.

The practice of​ printing a​ column or​ two of​ reading matter on​ most of​ the​ advertising pages influences the​ length of​ articles in​ many magazines. to​ obtain an​ attractive make-up,​ the​ editors allow only a​ page or​ two of​ each special article,​ short story,​ or​ serial to​ appear in​ the​ first part of​ the​ magazine,​ relegating the​ remainder to​ the​ advertising pages. Articles must,​ therefore,​ be long enough to​ fill a​ page or​ two in​ the​ first part of​ the​ periodical and several columns on​ the​ pages of​ advertising. Some magazines use short articles,​ or​ "fillers,​" to​ furnish the​ necessary reading matter on​ these advertising pages.

Newspapers of​ the​ usual size,​ with from 1000 to​ 1200 words in​ a​ column,​ have greater flexibility than magazines in​ the​ matter of​ make-up,​ and can,​ therefore,​ use special feature stories of​ various lengths. the​ arrangement of​ advertisements,​ even in​ the​ magazine sections,​ does not affect the​ length of​ articles. the​ only way to​ determine exactly the​ requirements of​ different newspapers and magazines is​ to​ count the​ words in​ typical articles in​ various departments.

Writing The Article

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