Nonfiction Writing Prompt #49: Write a Short Article

writing prompts for nonfiction writers

You might find it difficult to write an article for a major magazine if you have no previous experience doing so. Without “clips,” many mass media publications won’t give a newbie a chance—at least not on a long piece. However, many magazines will offer contracts to less-seasoned writers if you query them with an idea for a short article.

Look at the front section of almost any magazine. You’ll find articles that range in length from 150 to 500 words. These are called “shorts.”

Magazines need a number of them per month. And there’s less risk involved if editors accept these pieces from a writer with whom they haven’t previously worked. After all, it’s not a lot of copy; they can edit or rewrite it if necessary or pop in a different piece they write themselves.

Even if your plan is to only write nonfiction books, writing shorts and getting them published in well-known magazines that boast of large circulation numbers helps you build platform and be seen as an expert. That’s why this month’s Nonfiction Writing Prompt asks you to produce a short.

How to Complete Nonfiction Writing Prompt #49

To complete this writing prompt, follow these 7 steps:

  1. Find three to five magazines that publish articles related to subjects about which you like to write, on which you are an expert, or that relate to your book project.
  2. Research these magazine to discover if they run short articles of any type.
  3. Study the magazine’s longer articles and short articles to discover the type of content the magazine seeks.
  4. Study the magazine’s advertisers to discern what types of products the readers enjoy.
  5. Brainstorm short article ideas.
  6. Write query letters to one or all the magazines pitching your ideas.
  7. Wait…or write.

Once you’ve sent your query, you have the choice to begin writing the piece or to wait for a response. I typically recommend not writing until you know you’ll be paid, but if you have no clips to show, you can write the article—after all, it’s short—and then submit it with your query. Normally, magazines want only a query. If you have trouble breaking in, showing them your work can prove helpful, though. Use this strategy as a last resort.

If you want to learn more about how to write articles for publication, join the Nonfiction Writers’ University (NFWU). Previous NFWU member challenges have included detailed instructions and tips on how to write magazine articles and queries. These assignments are archived in the NFWU for members to access at any time.To find out more about or join the NFWU, click here.

The NFWU contains a wealth of  information about achieving your nonfiction writing and publishing goals. NonfictionWritersUniv300As a member, you receive 27 months of NFWU challenges, assignments, and coaching and educational-event recordings with a variety of experts in the field as well as introductory gifts worth more than $150. Plus, each month you’ll have access to live coaching and events! Members also get additional bonuses during the year. And, if you join now, you receive two bonuses courses! Click here to learn more and join.

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