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Tips from Vanity Fair style editor Silke Wichert

How to generate good ideas

  • Be creative!
  • Find new topics or give old topics a different angle.

Before writing your text

  • Focus on your audience: What do they expect?
  • Ask yourself: Why am I writing the story now?
  • Have a clear idea: What do I want to tell the audience?

How to write a good article

  • Write a headline that makes your audience curious.
  • Write a sub-title that provides a good summary of your topic.
  • First paragraph: Start with an interesting introduction or a scene that draws your audience into your article.
  • Second paragraph: Explain why you are writing the story now.
  • Main body: Give background information - the news behind the news.
  • Last paragraph: Write a conclusion. Leave your audience with a thought-provoking ending.

In general

  • Know and entertain your audience!
  • Use your own language - avoid complicated phrases or expressions.
  • Never write anything you don't understand yourself.
  • Avoid overly long, complicated sentences.
  • Give stories and people a different or lesser-known angle.
  • If you can, include real people with real quotes.
  • Don't prattle! Ask yourself: Do I really need this sentence or this word, or am I just filling space?
  • Re-write: (Almost) no one writes the perfect article first time round.
  • Try to keep your story interesting from the beginning to the end: Never take the attention of your audience for granted!

What are the different types of journalistic writing?

  • Column: Write about your own life, use friends/social environment for research (e.g. Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City).
  • Report: Closest to literature, lots of research/travelling/meeting people involved, very descriptive style, long text.
  • News story: Factual account of an event.
  • Interview option one: Question and answer style, with direct quotes.
  • Interview option two: Profile style: quote indirectly, more descriptive and general.
  • Feature: A longer piece: start with a scene to illustrate the topic and build on it by adding more information.