Daniel Wood changed a lot of minds at Powell River's recent Festival of Writers when he said magazines pay writers better than books. On average, one print mag needs 200 articles, long and short, every year and uses some freelancers to meet that goal. Thus income from magazine articles can be more regular than book royalties. And, he said there’s room for everyone in mags.
Wood, who teaches writing as well as doing it himself, reminded delegates that article ideas only come alive with story—people doing, feeling, seeing, etc. He advises opening a piece on an issue with a sequence of dramatic scenes filled with strong characters and motivations, and the use of dialogue. After that the writer can pull back and look at the issue through a wide-angle lens, and may (but not always) explicitly state the problem. Then, and only then, should the writer discuss what is being done about the issue and what more is needed. Wood says we should end with another riveting individual’s close-up.
Sound familiar? It should. This is what creative or narrative nonfiction is all about—employing fiction techniques to make nonfiction engage and move the reader.