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Basic Magazine Writing

Kevles, Barbara
Publisher:  Writer's Digest Books
Year Published:  1986  
Pages:  268pp   Price:  $16.95  

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Covers the A to Z of magazine writing in a readable manner and offers hints for advanced as well as beginning magazine writer.

Basic Magazine Writing's 16 chapters cover everything from the pros and cons of query phone call versus letters, where to find saleable ideas and identifying the right magazine market for an idea to how to get and do an interview, writing article outlines and overcoming writer's block. These chapters are the most interesting, but they are interspersed with more technical chapters on how to write seven article types: profile, service, issue, exposition, question-and-answer, "as told to" and celebrity interviews.

Throughout the book, Kevles thoroughly covers the basics, such as becoming familiar with a magazine before querying its editor, researching before interviews and finding timely stories. But she also suggests some gems such as contacting editors new to a magazine to check if they want new writers, prefacing tough questions with a personal appeal for the subject's help and asking distracted subjects what is troubling them so they can air it and get on with the interview.

Kevles, an American magazine freelancer of 20 years and a veteran writing teacher, brings several strengths to her book. Having written for many major American publications, ranging from The New York Times and Working Woman to The Saturday Evening Post and The Village Voice, she has numerous personal hints and experiences to draw from. She couples these with writing samples from both her students' and her own portfolio and critiques both. And her format is so logical and well-organized that anyone wishing to skim a chapter can still get its value form her regular selection summaries.

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