Paper, Order, or Assignment Requirements
Paper 3: The Feature Article: 5-6 p. in MLA format
For this paper, you will pretend to be a freelance writer trying to earn a buck so that you don’t have to go home to yet another cup of ramen noodles. To come closer to that goal, you’ll choose a specific magazine to write for. You’ll figure out what kinds of things the readers of that magazine are interested in. Then you’ll go to write an article that hopefully would be chosen as the feature piece for an issue of that magazine. A feature article is the most interesting writing in the magazine, usually highlighted on the cover, and is the piece that sells the issue to the readers. You’ll draw upon your own knowledge and ideas as well as some light research as you choose a topic that is interesting both to the readers of that magazine and to you.
This paper is a bit different than the first in that you are no longer exclusively writing about events from your past. However, your own personal experience will still play the leading role in this piece, as I’d like you to choose a subject or idea on which you consider yourself knowledgeable. You are an expert on something, and this is the time to use that expertise.
Your choice of magazine will guide your topic choice; we’ll do an audience analysis exercise to help you understand who you’re writing for. You are free to choose any magazine you like to write for as long as it’s something you enjoy. You can pick Glamour or Mad Magazine, TV Guide or American Cowboy, Sports Illustrated or Scientific American, Rolling Stone or The Weekly World News. Just make sure it’s something you enjoy—if you don’t actually like reading Organic Gardening, don’t choose it as your target publication! Topic-specific publications may tend to be easier targets for this assignment because they’re more focused; an article on young women and tattoos may be easier to write for Inked than for Seventeen.
To assist you, you will do a small amount of research to help you learn even more about your subject to enhance your expertise and to help your readers understand your topic. You should choose 1-2 substantive sources to assist you in discussing your topic. Just like in the Short Story, your sources may or may not agree with you. Equally, they might agree with you in some areas but not share your opinion in others. Your goal as you incorporate research is to bring the lessons of the Short Story assignment with you: we use sources to provide useful perspective, to enhance our own learning, to play devil’s advocate, or to showcase the variety of perspectives w/in the subject area. Even in a different format, one where you are totally in control, you should still be having “conversations” with your source, though much of the actual debate happens inside your thoughts now, and readers will see not the dialogue, but the result.
You will include a short, one-page analysis of several target magazines in your process document. This will be an assignment we’ll do as a class.
You will also do a short video “press release” advertising your article’s presence in the magazine and encouraging readers to seek it out. This will be explained more fully in another handout and will count as a separate grade.
Things I’ll be looking for:
Audience Awareness/Magazine Choice. In this paper, you will have a specific audience that you need to keep in mind. A feature article on Metallica, however interesting, probably won’t matter to readers of Southern Living. In the middle of your article on parasailing, if you want to publish in a magazine for conservative older readers, it might be a good idea to avoid mentioning just how strongly pro-choice you are. Know your audience and write to them—it should be obvious what kind of magazine your article is meant for from the writing.
Interest / Thinking: Your work should be clear and coherent. Is your piece interesting to potential readers/editors? Is it well-thought out? Do all the pieces of your article work together, or are there dead ends or sections where we wonder why you’re telling us this?
Voice. I want you to sound like yourself. Too often, as soon as young writers begin to move away from their own life story, they tend to fall into a stilted “academic” voice. Voice often sells writing. You may need to adapt your vocabulary (lots of salty curse words won’t work if you’re writing for Martha Stewart Living) or your style (Spin likes a very hip, slangy voice), but I should still be able to recognize you as I read your work.
Showing vs. Telling / Exploding the Moment / etc.: Good writing is good writing, regardless of its place; I still want to see you using these concrete language techniques in a way appropriate for your magazine.
Source Use: Do you include either 1 or 2 sources that you are using to help you write this paper? Are you using them in a “balanced” way that enhances your discussion of your topic? Or is research absent? Does it feel unused, or does it drown out your own voice?
Process Document: Do you include a process document showing one set of comments from each draft, including the magazine analysis activity?
Editing / MLA Format: Good writers revise thoroughly and edit their own work—they don’t rely on the magazine staff to catch their errors. Your article should be clean of errors and correctly formatted using MLA style, including a Works Cited page.
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