Peter P. Jacobi served as associate dean of the Medill School of Journalism (Northwestern University), professor of journalism (Indiana University), and as a regular staff member for the Highlights Foundation’s Chautauqua Workshops in New York, among other things. His book, The Magazine Article, How to think it, plan it, write it, provides wonderful information on writing.
Here are his eight techniques, taken from poets and poetry, which illustrate how to enhance any magazine article.
Technique one: Mind opening and perspective freshening. Try, like a poet, to develop a subject and use language so adeptly readers will gain a fresh understanding.
Technique two: Creativity. “Creativity isn’t always make-believe. It’s making the most of a subject.” Attempt inventiveness and originality.
Technique three: Willingness to experiment. A poet expresses himself through experimentation with language and method. He never sticks to the same old way. Try something different.
Technique four: Clarity. A poet strives to choose words that express exactly what he wants to say in the shortest possible way. Choose words carefully.
Technique five: Imagery. Today’s reader expects visuals. Give your words visual dimensions and evoke images. Use the five senses.
Technique six: Rhythm. “A sense of motion and of pattern and of flow” causes the reader to continue turning the pages.
Technique seven: Compression. Good writing says much in little space. Waste no words.
Technique eight: Excitement. Make ordinary objects extraordinary and normal relationships special. Stir emotions and excitement.
The article writer needs to reveal a subject using information that is actual and factual but that “every touch of tension or romance or excitement or intrigue, of information sharing and meaning is utilized.”
Can you add these eight techniques to your writing of fiction and nonfiction and improve your craft?