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How to Write a Magazine Article

Last Updated: October 11, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Gerald Posner . Gerald Posner is an Author & Journalist based in Miami, Florida. With over 35 years of experience, he specializes in investigative journalism, nonfiction books, and editorials. He holds a law degree from UC College of the Law, San Francisco, and a BA in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley. He’s the author of thirteen books, including several New York Times bestsellers, the winner of the Florida Book Award for General Nonfiction, and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. He was also shortlisted for the Best Business Book of 2020 by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 925,925 times.

Magazine articles can be a big boost for seasoned freelance writers or writers who are trying to jump-start their writing careers. In fact, there are no clear qualifications required for writing magazine articles except for a strong writing voice, a passion for research, and the ability to target your article pitches to the right publications. Though it may seem like magazines may be fading in the digital age, national magazines continue to thrive and can pay their writers $1 a word. [1] X Research source To write a good magazine article, you should focus on generating strong article ideas and crafting and revising the article with high attention to detail.

Generating Article Ideas

Step 1 Analyze publications you enjoy reading.

  • Check if the bylines match the names on the masthead. If the names on the bylines do not match the masthead names, this may be an indication that the publication hires freelance writers to contribute to its issues.
  • Look for the names and contact information of editors for specific areas. If you’re interested in writing about pop culture, identify the name and contact information of the arts editor. If you’re more interested in writing about current events, look for the name and contact information of the managing editor or the features editor. You should avoid contacting the executive editor or the editor-in-chief as they are too high up the chain and you will likely not interact with them as a freelance writer.
  • Note recent topics or issues covered in the publication and the angle or spin on the topics. Does the publication seem to go for more controversial takes on a topic or a more objective approach? Does the publication seem open to experimentation in form and content or are they more traditional?
  • Look at the headlines used by the publication and how the articles begin. Note if the headlines are shocking or vague. Check if the articles start with a quote, a statistic, or an anecdote. This will give you a good sense of the writing style that gets published in that particular publication.
  • Note the types of sources quoted in the articles. Are they academic or more laymen? Are there many sources quoted, or many different types of sources quoted?
  • Pay attention to how writers wrap up their articles in the publication. Do they end on a poignant quote? An interesting image? Or do they have a bold, concluding thought?

Step 2 Consider recent trends or topics you talked about with a friend or peer.

  • These inspiring conversations do not need to be about global problems or a large issue. Having conversations with your neighbors, your friends, and your peers can allow you to discuss local topics that could then turn into an article idea for a local magazine.

Step 3 Look up upcoming events in your area.

  • You should also look through your local newspaper for human interest stories that may have national relevance. You could then take the local story and pitch it to a magazine. You may come across a local story that feels incomplete or full of unanswered questions. This could then act as a story idea for a magazine article.

Step 4 Consider what other writers are publishing.

  • You can also set your Google alerts to notify you if keywords on topics of interest appear online. If you have Twitter or Instagram, you can use the hashtag option to search trending topics or issues that you can turn into article ideas.

Step 5 Think of a new angle on a familiar topic.

  • For example, rather than write about the psychological problems of social media on teenagers, which has been done many times in many different magazines, perhaps you can focus on a demographic that is not often discussed about social media: seniors and the elderly. This will give you a fresh approach to the topic and ensure your article is not just regurgitating a familiar angle.

Crafting the Article

Step 1 Research your article idea using sources like books and published texts.

  • Look for content written by experts in the field that relates to your article idea. If you are doing a magazine article on dying bee populations in California, for example, you should try to read texts written by at least two bee experts and/or a beekeeper who studies bee populations in California.
  • You should ensure any texts you use as part of your research are credible and accurate. Be wary of websites online that contain lots of advertisements or those that are not affiliated with a professionally recognized association or field of study. Make sure you check if any of the claims made by an author have been disputed by other experts in the field or have been challenged by other experts. Try to present a well-rounded approach to your research so you do not appear biased or slanted in your research.

Step 2 Locate individuals who could be good sources.

  • You can also do an online search for individuals who may serve as good expert sources based in your area. If you need a legal source, you may ask other freelance writers who they use or ask for a contact at a police station or in the legal system.

Step 3 Interview your sources.

  • Prepare a list of questions before the interview. Research the source’s background and level of expertise. Be specific in your questions, as interviewees usually like to see that you have done previous research and are aware of the source’s background.
  • Ask open-ended questions, avoid yes or no questions. For example, rather than asking, "Did you witness the test trials of this drug?" You can present an open-ended question, "What can you tell me about the test trials of this drug?" Be an active listener and try to minimize the amount of talking you do during the interview. The interview should be about the subject, not about you.
  • Make sure you end the interview with the question: “Is there anything I haven’t asked you about this topic that I should know about?” You can also ask for referrals to other sources by asking, “Who disagrees with you on your stance on this issue?” and “Who else should I talk to about this issue?”
  • Don’t be afraid to contact the source with follow-up questions as your research continues. As well, if you have any controversial or possibly offensive questions to ask the subject, save them for last.

Step 4 Transcribe your interviews.

  • The best way to transcribe your interviews is to sit down with headphones plugged into your tape recorder and set aside a few hours to type out the interviews. There is no short and quick way to transcribe unless you decide to use a transcription service, which will charge you a fee for transcribing your interviews.

Step 5 Create an article outline.

  • Your outline should include the main point or angle of the article in the introduction, followed by supporting points in the article body, and a restatement or further development of your main point or angle in your conclusion section.
  • The structure of your article will depend on the type of article you are writing. If you are writing an article on an interview with a noteworthy individual, your outline may be more straightforward and begin with the start of the interview and move to the end of the interview. But if you are writing an investigative report, you may start with the most relevant statements or statements that relate to recent news and work backward to the least relevant or more big picture statements. [10] X Research source
  • Keep in mind the word count of the article, as specified by your editor. You should keep the first draft within the word count or just above the word count so you do not lose track of your main point. Most editors will be clear about the required word count of the article and will expect you not to go over the word count, for example, 500 words for smaller articles and 2,000-3,000 words for a feature article. Most magazines prefer short and sweet over long and overly detailed, with a maximum of 12 pages, including graphics and images. [11] X Research source
  • You should also decide if you are going to include images or graphics in the article and where these graphics are going to come from. You may contribute your own photography or the publication may provide a photographer. If you are using graphics, you may need to have a graphic designer re create existing graphics or get permission to use the existing graphics.

Step 6 Use a hook first line.

  • Use an interesting or surprising example: This could be a personal experience that relates to the article topic or a key moment in an interview with a source that relates to the article topic. For example, you may start an article on beekeeping in California by using a discussion you had with a source: "Darryl Bernhardt never thought he would end up becoming the foremost expert on beekeeping in California."
  • Try a provocative quotation: This could be from a source from your research that raises interesting questions or introduces your angle on the topic. For example, you may quote a source who has a surprising stance on bee populations: "'Bees are more confused than ever,' Darryl Bernhart, the foremost expert in bees in California, tells me."
  • Use a vivid anecdote: An anecdote is a short story that carries moral or symbolic weight. Think of an anecdote that might be a poetic or powerful way to open your article. For example, you may relate a short story about coming across abandoned bee hives in California with one of your sources, an expert in bee populations in California.
  • Come up with a thought provoking question: Think of a question that will get your reader thinking and engaged in your topic, or that may surprise them. For example, for an article on beekeeping you may start with the question: "What if all the bees in California disappeared one day?"

Step 7 Weave in quotes from experts or reliable sources.

  • You want to avoid leaning too much on quotations to write the article for you. A good rule of thumb is to expand on a quotation once you use it and only use quotations when they feel necessary and impactful. The quotations should support the main angle of your article and back up any claims being made in the article.

Step 8 End on a strong concluding statement that illuminates or expands on your article topic.

  • You may want to lean on a strong quote from a source that feels like it points to future developments relating to the topic or the ongoing nature of the topic. Ending the article on a quote may also give the article more credibility, as you are allowing your sources to provide context for the reader.

Revising the Article

Step 1 Discuss the article with your editor.

  • Having a conversation about the article with your editor can offer you a set of professional eyes who can make sure the article fits within the writing style of the publication and reaches its best possible draft. You should be open to editor feedback and work with your editor to improve the draft of the article.

Step 2 Apply editor and peer feedback to the article.

  • You should also get a copy of the publication’s style sheet or contributors guidelines and make sure the article follows these rules and guidelines. Your article should adhere to these guidelines to ensure it is ready for publication by your deadline.

Step 3 Revise the article for flow and structure.

  • Most publications accept electronic submissions of articles. Talk with your editor to determine the best way to submit the revised article.

Sample Articles

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Expert Q&A

Gerald Posner

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Expert Interview

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Thanks for reading our article! If you'd like to learn more about writing an article, check out our in-depth interview with Gerald Posner .

  • ↑ http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/grammar-rules-and-tips/tips-on-writing-a-good-feature-for-magazines.html
  • ↑ https://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/20-ways-to-generate-article-ideas-in-20-minutes-or-less
  • ↑ http://www.writerswrite.com/journal/jun03/eight-tips-for-getting-published-in-magazines-6036
  • ↑ http://www.thepenmagazine.net/20-steps-to-write-a-good-article/
  • ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0R5f2VV58pw
  • ↑ https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-nonfiction/how-many-different-kinds-of-articles-are-there
  • ↑ http://libguides.unf.edu/c.php?g=177086&p=1163719

About This Article

Gerald Posner

To write a magazine article, start by researching your topic and interviewing experts in the field. Next, create an outline of the main points you want to cover so you don’t go off topic. Then, start the article with a hook that will grab the reader’s attention and keep them reading. As you write, incorporate quotes from your research, but be careful to stick to your editor’s word count, such as 500 words for a small article or 2,000 words for a feature. Finally, conclude with a statement that expands on your topic, but leaves the reader wanting to learn more. For tips on how to smoothly navigate the revision process with an editor, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Write Nonfiction NOW!

How to Write Magazine Articles and Essays

November 11, 2008 By nawnfinimport2 2 Comments

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In case you’ve only recently discovered Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) or you’re still struggling with what to write for the challenge – or you simply haven’t found time until now to get started, here’s another idea that you can still complete before month’s end: write a newspaper or magazine article. Put your pen to paper or your fingers to keyboard and whip out an essay or a reported piece of writing.

I’m a journalist by trade, so I thought today I’d offer you my expertise. (Sorry, no guest blogger; just me, Nina Amir.) I received my degree in magazine journalism specifically, although Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Journalism required all magazine journalism majors to also know how to write for newspapers, do layout and edit copy. (The latter put me on the path of becoming a nonfiction article, book and proposal editor.) I’ve been writing articles since I was in high school, where I began my career by reviving the defunct school newspaper and went on to become the school news reporter for the local newspaper.  Since then, I’ve written for more than 45 local, national and international magazines, newspapers, ezines and newsletters on a full-time or freelance basis. I’ve written hundreds of articles on more subjects than I can remember. 

I love what I do. I get to write about so many interesting things and people and so many things that interest me. For example, recently I was asked to write an article on the new Crique de Soleil show, Believe , opening in Los Vegas. I had a blast learning all about its creator Criss Angel and writing about the people who helped him bring his dream into reality. (Look for it in the November/December issue of Movmnt magazine.) Then, I got to write an essay for InterfaithFamily.com on something very personal – my struggle with my husband’s loss of faith.  (You can read it in this week’s issue .) Prior to that, I wrote a reported article for the same ezine on how to prepare for the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. (Read it here .) And before that, I wrote a reported article on the state of the organic market for a trade journal called Grocery Headquarters and a story on female tap dancers in a show produced by Emmy-award winning choreographer Jason Samuels Smith for Dance Spirit magazine. (My son’s a dancer, so I loved writing this article and talking to these phenomenal dancers. Plus, it provided great platform building for the book I’m writing on mentoring boys who want to become professional dancers. If you have a son who dances, check out this blog .)

If you’ve never written an article, don’t be put off. It’s not that difficult. Just tell them what you’re gonna tell ’em. Tell ’em. Then tell ’em what you told ’em. At least that’s what my old Professor John Keats , rest his soul, used to tell us students. (It sounds just like what most high school students are told when writing an essay.) So, let’s break down the three parts of an article.

The Three Parts of an Article

  • Just tell them what you’re gonna tell ’em. An article consists, first, of a lead, or a first paragraph that entices the reader into your article. This could also be comprised of several paragraphs if you choose to use an anecdote or a few bulleted items or to talk about a trend occurring. After that, however, you need a sentence or a few sentences that tell your reader what the article is about – a statement of purpose, if you will. Tell them what the article is about so they have an idea of where they are going. Hopefully, you’ve enticed them into wanting to go there.
  • Tell ’em.   This section represents the meat of your article. Here you place all your supporting material, such as statistics, quotes you obtained from interviews, additional anecdotes, your analysis, etc. Remember, however, that if you are writing a reported article, in most cases you must write in an unslanted manner; this means without an opinion. If you are writing an essay, you may voice your opinon as loudly as you like. Also, if you are writing an essay, you may not be using quotes but relying instead on your own “voice.”
  • Tell ’em what you told ’em. Now write your conclusion. Sum up what you wrote about without simply repeating what you already said. That’s right: Say it again but in a totally new way so your readers have no idea that they are reading the same information again. Give it a new angle. Put a new take on it. Offer additional information to support what you’ve already offered. For an essay, if possible, provide a bit broader view or some quote or anecdote or bit of information that takes the reader into the future. You can use this tactic with a reported article as well, but it works especially well with essays.

If you are looking for a great topic to write about, ask yourself what interests you. Prof. Keats, like most good teachers, always said, “Write about what you know.” I tend to look at my life and identify issues with which I’m currently struggling. I query magazines and newspapers with those topics, and I usually find the editors pretty receptive. Most people are just like you. They struggle with the same issues.

I have a caveat to the “write what you know” advice: Know about what you write. A good writer/journalist can write about anything at all simply by becoming the expert on that topic. I’ve written about life insurance tax law, immortality, retail store imaging, Kabbalah, geodesic domes, lobbying, and the supermarket pet aisle. I served as the managing editor and primary writer for two international medical newsletters, Same-Day Surgery and Clinical Laser Surgery . I didn’t know about these topics when I began writing about them. I knew a lot about them when afterwards. The biggest compliment I ever received came from an employee at the Equitable Life Assurance Society. I was working as the associate editor of employee communications and had just written and published a huge article in the employee newspaper about life insurance tax law. She came up to me and said, “That’s the first article on the subject that I’ve ever understood.”  I told her, “I had to understand it to be able to write about it.” 

So, pick a topic for an article or essay, preferably one you are interested in or feel passionate about. Learn about it. Understand it. Then write about it. And dont’ forget to try and get it published!

For more information on article writing and publishing, check out last year’s archive of blogs. Or contact me at [email protected] .

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Content Writer for Magazine: Tips for Write Great Articles (2023)

September 15, 2022

Content Writer for Magazine: Tips for Write Great Articles

A content writer for a magazine is someone who writes articles, stories, or other content for the magazine. they are responsible for providing engaging and informative articles for the publication. They must be able to research and write on a variety of topics, as well as edit and proofread their work.

In addition, they may be required to work with other members of the magazine team, such as the editor, to ensure that their articles are ready for publication.

In this role, you will be expected to research and write articles on a variety of topics, as well as edit and proofread your work. You must be able to work independently and meet deadlines, as well as have excellent communication and writing skills. If you are a creative and passionate writer with a strong interest in magazines, then this role is for you.

Now, let's look at how you can become a content writer for a magazine.

How to become a content writer for magazine?

The best way to become a content writer for a magazine may vary depending on the publication and your specific area of expertise. But we have some tips to help you get started.

Here are 12 tips on how to become a content writer for a magazine:

  • Start by writing for online magazines. There are many online magazines that accept submissions from freelance writers. This is a great way to get your feet wet and learn more about the process of writing for magazines. ‍
  • Study the magazine market. Before you start pitching to magazines, it’s important that you understand the market. Study different types of magazines and see which ones would be a good fit for your writing style. ‍
  • Find the right contacts. Each magazine has its own submission guidelines. Make sure you follow these guidelines when you pitch your story idea. It’s also important to find the right contact person at the magazine. ‍
  • Write a great query letter. Your query letter is your chance to sell your story idea to the editor. Make sure you take the time to write a well-crafted letter that will grab their attention. ‍
  • Be prepared to revise your story. Editors often have specific ideas about how they want a story to be told. Be prepared to make revisions to your story based on their feedback. ‍
  • Be professional. If you want to be a successful content writer for magazines, it’s important to be professional. This means meeting deadlines, keeping in touch with the magazine team, and editing your work for grammar and spelling. ‍
  • Take part in magazine projects. Magazine content writers often pitch stories to different departments within the magazine. This helps to develop your writing skills and gives you a chance to show off your research and writing skills. ‍
  • Be prepared to pitch. It’s important to be able to pitch your story ideas to different departments within the magazine. This means being organized and prepared to explain your ideas in detail. ‍
  • Keep learning. There is always more to learn about writing for magazines, so stay active in your research and never stop learning. This will help you become a better writer and researcher. ‍
  • Follow the golden rule. The golden rule of magazine writing is to make the reader feel like they are the only person in the world who knows about the topic discussed in the article. This can be done by using interesting, engaging, and informative prose. ‍
  • Practice your craft. Once you have a good understanding of the magazine industry and your own story, start pitching your ideas to different departments within the magazine. This will help you learn how to write for editors and the department at the magazine. ‍
  • Get experience. If you want to be a successful content writer for magazines, it’s important to get experience. This means writing articles for online magazines, submitting stories to print magazines, and attending events related to the magazine industry.

15 Skills required to become a content writer needs for magazine

  • A content writer for a magazine must have a good understanding of who the magazine’s target audience is in order to write articles that are appealing to them. ‍
  • A content writer for a magazine needs excellent writing skills. ‍
  • The ability to write engaging, compelling copy that tells a story and sells a product, service, or idea, and keeps their attention. ‍
  • The ability to capture the attention of the reader and hold it throughout the piece. ‍
  • A content writer for a magazine must be able to think creatively in order to come up with new and interesting ideas for articles. ‍
  • The ability to work with editorial staff and other writers to ensure the smooth flow of information and the overall quality of the magazine. ‍
  • The ability to meet deadlines and maintain a high level of professionalism. ‍
  • They must be able to write clearly and concisely. ‍
  • Many magazine articles are based on interviews, so content writers need to be able to conduct interviews in order to gather information for their articles. ‍
  • Content writers who want to write for magazines need to understand the specific style and format that is unique to this type of publication. ‍
  • They must be able to come up with fresh and original ideas. ‍
  • In addition to editing their own work, content writers need to be able to proofread their work to ensure that there are no errors. ‍
  • The ability to pitch ideas to editors. ‍
  • Once a content writer has finished writing an article, it is important for them to edit their work before it is submitted to a magazine. ‍
  • A content writer needs to be organized in order to keep track of their ideas and the information they have gathered.

Challenges of being a content writer for magazine

Here are the top 5 challenges of being a content writer for magazine.

  • Time management : As a content writer for a magazine, you will be working on a variety of deadlines. This can be challenging and you will need to be able to manage your time well. ‍
  • Research : In order to write articles that are interesting and informative, you will need to do a lot of research. This can be time-consuming, but it is important to make sure that your articles are accurate. ‍
  • Writing style : Each magazine has its own writing style. As a content writer, you will need to be able to adapt your writing style to fit the magazine. This can be challenging, but it is important to be able to write in a variety of styles. ‍
  • Topic selection : With so many topics to choose from, it can be difficult to decide what to write about. You will need to be able to select topics that are interesting and relevant to the magazine. ‍
  • Editing : Once you have written your article, it will need to be edited. This can be a challenge, as you will need to make sure that your article meets the magazine's standards. ‍

But there's an easy way to overcome these challenges with the help of AI writer.

15 tips to help you write great articles for magazines

As a content writer for a magazine, you have the opportunity to Write Great Articles that inform, entertain, and engage your readers.

  • Understand your audience and what they want to read. ‍
  • Make sure your articles are well-researched. Be sure to do your research for your articles, and make sure you know your subject matter. If you don't know anything about the topic, then you will likely be found lacking in this area by your readers. ‍
  • Start with a catchy headline. Your headline is the first thing that readers will see, so make sure that it’s attention-grabbing and relevant to the article. ‍
  • Write engaging, interesting opening paragraphs that hook your readers and get them interested in the article. These paragraphs should be short, but they must captivate your reader and draw them in to learn more. ‍
  • Use quotes and statistics. Support your arguments with quotes and statistics from credible sources. ‍
  • Use simple language. Avoid using jargon or overly technical language. Write in a way that is easy to understand. ‍
  • Keep it short and sweet. No one wants to read a long, drawn-out article. Keep your article concise and to the point. ‍
  • Write in an active voice. Use active voice when writing your article to make it more engaging for the reader. ‍
  • Use strong verbs. Choose your words carefully and use strong verbs to add impact to your writing. ‍
  • Use images, infographics, and other visual elements to break up your text and add interest. ‍
  • Structure your article logically. Organize your thoughts and structure your article in a way that is easy to follow. ‍
  • Properly formatting your article is important to make it easy to read and look professional. Make sure to use headings, subheadings, and bullet points to break up your text and make it easier to read. ‍
  • Fact check your article thoroughly before publication. ‍
  • Always proofread before publishing. This will help to avoid any embarrassing mistakes or typos. ‍
  • Once your article is published, make sure to promote it on social media and other platforms. This will help get your article in front of more people and increase the chances of it being read.

How can AI writer help you become a better content writer for magazine?

If you are a content writer for a magazine, AI writer can help you become a better content writer by:

  • Helping you to research and plan your articles. ‍
  • Helping you research and gather information for their articles. ‍
  • Helping you to edit and proofread your work. ‍
  • Helping you to manage your time and deadlines. ‍
  • Providing you with feedback and suggestions for improving your writing. ‍
  • Helping you to plan and organize your writing. ‍
  • Helping you generate graphs, charts, and other visuals to accompany your content. ‍
  • Giving you ideas for new content. ‍
  • Helping you to improve your writing skills. ‍
  • Helping you check your grammar and spelling. ‍
  • Providing you with access to a wealth of information and resources. ‍
  • Fact-check your content more efficiently. ‍

These are just a few reasons of how an AI writing tool can help you become a better content writer for magazines.

Final Thoughts: Content Writer for Magazine

If you're interested in becoming a content writer for a magazine, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, you'll need to be able to write on a variety of topics and be able to edit and proofread your work. Second, you should be able to work independently and meet deadlines. Finally, excellent communication and writing skills are a must.

If you have all of these qualities, then a career as a content writer for a magazine may be the perfect fit for you.

And if you wish to improve your productivity and say good bye to writer's block, you can check out AI writing tools like LongShot AI, to generate quality articles for you.

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Writer's Digest Guide to Magazine Article Writing: A Practical Guide to Selling Your Pitches, Crafting Strong Articles, & Earning More Bylines

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Writer's Digest Guide to Magazine Article Writing: A Practical Guide to Selling Your Pitches, Crafting Strong Articles, & Earning More Bylines Paperback – Illustrated, July 17, 2018

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  • Print length 240 pages
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  • Publisher Writer's Digest Books
  • Publication date July 17, 2018
  • Dimensions 6.01 x 0.62 x 8.98 inches
  • ISBN-10 1440351244
  • ISBN-13 978-1440351242
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Editorial Reviews

About the author, excerpt. © reprinted by permission. all rights reserved., writer's digest guide to magazine article writing, a practical guide to selling your pitches, crafting strong articles, & earning more bylines, f+w media, inc..


Why write for magazines? I guess the bigger question is, why not? There are thousands of print and digital magazines, and they all have one thing in common. They need writers. And the fact that these publications continue to put out new issues monthly, quarterly, and some weekly, means they need a continuous stream of quality content from good writers.

In this age of digital media, there is a misconception that magazines, like newspapers, are dying a slow death, especially with young readers. A recent report from The Association of Magazine Media dispels this myth and illustrates the growth and vibrancy of this market. Currently there are more than seven thousand print magazines in the United States. Ninety-one percent of U.S. adults read print magazines with the biggest readership in the thirty-five and under crowd. The net audience for both print and digital editions has grown to more than 215 million and continues to grow.


This is good news! With the popularity of magazines, more content is going to be needed from writers who understand the industry. Editors look for writers who know how to write an effective query, who take the time to research their publication, who can expand on a good idea, who are capable of writing a great piece, and who respect word count and deadlines. Editors seek writers who will make their jobs easier by being professional and easy to work with. Of the more than seven thousand print magazines in the United States, many are niche and trade publications you may not have heard of before. These magazines focus on a narrowly defined topic or specialty. You won't find these at Barnes & Noble or at your local newsstand. But there are magazines on every topic you can imagine. The Concrete Producer, Bee Culture, The American Window Cleaner Magazine, Balloons and Parties Magazine, Military Vehicles Magazine, Sky & Telescope, and Sand Sports Magazine are just a few of these unique publications. Unlike the well-known magazines you see in the grocery store, like Family Circle or Prevention, these smaller publications aren't inundated with freelance writers knocking down the door. This makes them more open to working with new writers, especially ones who take the time to understand their readership and their magazine. If you have a hobby or special interest, chances are there are magazines published on the topic, and you're ideally suited to write for them.

"Niches are great because they're much less competitive than larger markets," says Megan Hill, freelance writer from Seattle. "You can more easily differentiate yourself among the competition and be a big fish in a small pond."


If you are someone who likes short-term projects and quick turn-arounds, then you will enjoy this line of work. Unlike publishing a book, which can take years, writing for magazines is a shorter process from start to finish. From writing the initial query to seeing your article in print can take as little as a few months. With digital magazines, this can be even shorter. If you like to get things done and move on to the next project, this is appealing. Plus you don't have to worry about investing a lot of time in an idea that doesn't pan out.

Magazines have different lead times. This refers to how far in advance they are working on an issue. Some work four to six months out and for others it may be a month. For publications with longer lead times, it's possible you will have two to three months to work on the piece before turning it in. For those with a shorter lead time, you may be given a couple of weeks to turn around the article. Regardless of the lead time, the process from query to publication is still relatively short.


Writing for magazines can open up a new world for you. Over the years I have had the privilege of interviewing some wonderful people who have inspired and encouraged me, and some have even become my friends. I have met celebrities, business owners, artists, authors, and everyday people with extraordinary stories. With each one I feel more connected to those around me and my worldview expands.

There's advice floating around that says, write what you know, but that should be expanded to write what you want to know. In my local paper, years ago, was an article about Colorado wineries. After reading it, I wanted to know more about this topic. After all, I enjoyed a good glass of wine after work or with dinner. Having wineries nearby meant I could learn more without having to travel far. I researched the industry, wrote a query and received an assignment. I learned so much doing the article. Did you know that Colorado vineyards are the highest in terms of altitude in the northern hemisphere? And that the climate on the western slopes of Colorado near Grand Junction is ideal for grape growing? Winery owners took me on private tours, and sampling a Viognier right out of the barrel is an experience I'll never forget.

Through my articles I have learned about the Alaska Marine Highway, how to write for the children's app market, interesting facts about the Tongass National Forest, RV safety, and so much more. Getting paid to write the articles is great, but it goes beyond the money. I love the experiences afforded to me because of my magazine writing. With each new assignment comes the chance to expand my knowledge and learn more about the world and the people who live here.


The good news is that to venture into this world of magazine writing, you don't need a degree in journalism. I have a bachelor's degree in social science along with a teaching certificate. Editors have never asked about my degree. They look for well-written pieces that will be of interest to their readers.

You don't need an advanced or specialized degree, or even a college diploma, but you do need solid writing skills and a curiosity about the world around you. Your degree, if you have one, along with your unique life experiences, provides you with topics and article ideas where you might be considered an expert. Maybe you have been fly-fishing since you were a kid. Or you are a video game fanatic. Or you have six children (who are polite and well-behaved). These are all areas that don't require a degree, and readers of certain magazines would be interested to learn more from you.

Using your life experiences, your knowledge, and exploring areas you want to know more about gives you unique ideas and expertise that editors will welcome.


There is something exciting about gathering all the necessary information for an article. For me it's the thrill of the hunt, which can involve research on the computer, talking with experts, traveling to a destination, seeking facts, or collecting materials.

Years ago, we went on a trip to Alaska. While there, I picked up brochures everywhere we went, talked with the locals, jotted down notes, took photos, and experienced as much as I could. When I returned home I had a good collection of material and information. I then took one month and focused all my energy and queries on Alaska. I organized my notes, looked through the brochures and figured out potential story angles. I ended up with a feature assignment about traveling the Alaska Marine Highway that was published in a trade magazine, Family Motor Coaching. And just recently (ten years after this trip) I received an assignment with Alaska magazine to write about the Tongass National Forest, based on an idea that surfaced during that vacation. After initially sending out queries for this idea following the trip and getting "no thank yous," I put the query away. Every now and then I would think about it and send it out again. But nothing ever surfaced. Then at a writing conference I was talking with the editor of Alaska magazine. I shared with her that I had always wanted to write an article about the Tongass rainforest since visiting there. We talked and I told her I had queried the idea but never had found anyone interested in it. She said it could be a good fit for a specific department in her magazine if I changed the slant. We talked through it and by the end of the conversation, I had the assignment.

Researching and gathering information is what keeps writing for magazines interesting. It becomes a big puzzle with many moving parts, and then the fun comes when it's time to put all those pieces together into one article readers will enjoy.

I was working on an article for a writing magazine on the topic "Does social media really work?" My goal was to explore whether it was necessary for authors to participate on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms to be successful. I knew this was a huge topic that would take some digging and end up with a lot of moving parts. One question (along with a few others) I put out to writers, agents, and editors was "Have you seen a difference in sales for your authors (or yourself, if it went to an author) who are more active on social media? Please explain." The overwhelming response to that specific question was, "no," which was what I suspected.

Subsequently the big question in my head was why do people continue to do social media? In the follow-up, "Please explain," I received other helpful information that addressed my new question. Turns out, it was more about connecting with readers (which could happen on social media, but not always) and good writing. Once I got all my answers, I had to look them over carefully, determine the commonalities and differences, and put my conclusions into an interesting article for the reader.

Magazine writing is great, but it is work. There is nothing wrong with getting paid for your time and effort. Often writers have this idea that because it is a creative venture, they shouldn't expect to get paid. Magazines are a business and because of that you deserve compensation. This can range from ten dollars for an article up to one thousand dollars or more. You probably aren't going to get a top rate straight out of the chute, but it is something to work toward. Getting paid to have your work in the hands of readers is a definite perk. Plus this money can be a good way to supplement your income alongside a full-time job.


The beauty of magazine writing is that you decide how much time you are putting into it. You choose how many assignments you want. Maybe you want to start with one a month or maybe you want to jump all the way in and get as many as you can. When I first started, I was a full-time teacher, wife, and mother of three; writing was something I did on the side. I worked on one article at a time. That year I had seven assignments, which was perfect. It allowed me to devote time and energy to my family and my career, while having this small job just for me.

If you are interested in being a full-time freelance writer, it will take months to gear up to this by sending out dozens of queries and making connections with editors. Debbie Hanson, a freelance writer from Florida, says, "It's important to have a high degree of patience when starting out. Don't expect a freelance writing career to take off overnight. It takes time to build credibility and editorial contacts." Whether you write for magazines part-time or full-time, you control your schedule and how much work you accept. The flip side is the work can be inconsistent, and you have to be prepared for that as well.


Magazine writing is a freelance endeavor that is done from home. This provides you many freedoms and options you wouldn't have otherwise. Depending on how far your work space is from your bedroom, there isn't a long commute each morning. If you work in your pajamas, no one cares, plus it saves money on work clothes. You can structure your work space and workday in whatever way suits your personality, strengths, and your family or household commitments. When you are tired of looking at the same four walls, you can take your computer on the road to a local coffee shop or library (though you will want to change out of your pajamas). If you want to travel, then by all means, pack up your laptop and go see the world.

It will give you great material and ideas to work with, and you can still write and submit queries.

Magazine writing is an area of the publishing world that is open to all writers. More than seven thousand print magazines and all digital publications need well-written content, and editors look for professional, competent writers to provide it. Why write for magazines? Because you can. With the right knowledge (found in this book) and preparation, seeing your byline on the pages of a magazine, either print or digital, is definitely possible.



JORDAN ROSENFELD: I love generating new ideas and the "high" of a pitch that is accepted. I love interviewing people and consolidating data into a digestible outcome. I love the freedom and flexibility to set my own schedule.

DANIELLE BRAFF: I love that I can write about anything I want. For example, whenever I have a problem with my kids, I write an article about it so that I can spend time speaking with all the experts. I just finished writing an article for the Chicago Tribune about sibling rivalry because my children can't stop arguing. I got to interview a bunch of different child psychologists and other experts to get lots of different opinions on how to get this to stop.

MEGAN HILL: I like doing something different every day, and there's constantly an element of excitement that keeps me on my toes. I've got a great rotating stable of consistent projects that I love, and random new possibilities pop into my in-box every week. It's thrilling! I also love being my own boss and dictating how I spend my time. I don't ever feel my time is wasted. If I finish my work early, I can leave my office and go do something fun or relaxing, rather than feeling forced by office peer pressure to "look busy" for eight hours a day, five days a week.

TOM KEER: I think of print books, print magazines, digital magazines, blogs, and social media (among others) as pearls that become a necklace with a piece of thread. The thread that turns those individual pearls into a necklace is the creative process, and that is what I love about writing. I love moving along the path that takes me from a rough idea to a completed manuscript.

ROXANNE HAWN: The flexibility to structure my days and my life. I like not having to wear professional clothes, especially tights or hose.

MICKEY GOODMAN: Everything! I loved interviewing the dignitaries and famous visitors to campus like Malcolm X, The Kingston Trio, the prime minister of Indonesia — and seeing my byline in print. It was especially exciting when the AP and UPI (this was in the early sixties) picked up my stories for wider distribution. The most widely printed were a retrospect of Malcolm X after his murder and a series of articles I wrote about the studies underway at UNC Medical Center, including one of the first on autism.

STACEY MCKENNA: I adore the schedule — both setting my own hours and days. But I also appreciate the intellectual freedom. Freelancing lets me pursue the reaches of my curiosity. I love that each story opens new trails to be explored.

DEBBIE HANSON: Being able to share my experiences and knowledge through the written word.

AMANDA CASTLEMAN: I love the freedom to organize my day, pursue stories I'm passionate about, and travel the world.

Article Example: FOB (Front of the Book)


The number of magazines is on the rise, giving writers more opportunities for publication. It is helpful to understand the basic process of publishing an article before exploring this option. We'll explore this in depth in the chapters ahead, but here is a quick overview of the process.

IDEA: There are really no new ideas, but there are plenty of new ways to slant them. It is important to find a unique angle that makes your article stand out and one that hasn't been covered by the magazine recently.

QUERY: This is a one-page sales pitch to the editor of a magazine. It gives an initial hook, an overview of the idea, the basic direction of the article, and what qualifies you to write it.

ASSIGNMENT: If an editor likes your idea, she will offer you a contract that spells out what she wants in regard to word count, deadline, and payment. Once the contract is signed, you can move on to the article.

WRITE ARTICLE: Now it's time to put together all the information you collected. Stay within your assigned word count and send the article to the editor before the deadline.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Writer's Digest Books; Illustrated edition (July 17, 2018)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1440351244
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1440351242
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 9.6 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.01 x 0.62 x 8.98 inches
  • #393 in Words, Language & Grammar Reference
  • #536 in Authorship Reference
  • #1,206 in Fiction Writing Reference (Books)

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About the author

Kerrie l. flanagan.

Kerrie Flanagan is an author, writing consultant, instructor with Stanford Continuing Studies, and freelance writer with over 20 years’ experience in the publishing industry. She is a frequent contributor to The Writer magazine and her work has also appeared in dozens of other publications including Alaska Magazine, Writer’s Digest and six Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She is the author of, The Writer's Digest Guide to Magazine Article Writing and creator of the Magazine Writing Blueprint.

In addition, she has published twenty other books, including eleven sci-fi and fantasy novels with a coauthor under the pen name C.G. Harris. She was the founder of Northern Colorado Writers (now Writing Heights Writers Assoc.) and led the group for ten years. Over the years, she has worked with hundreds of authors through classes and individual consultations. Her background in teaching, and enjoyment of helping writers has led her to present at writing conferences across the country.


Twitter: @Kerrie_Flanagan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KerrieFlanaganWriter

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4 Misunderstandings About Multiple-Choice Questions

Advice from college admissions officers, how to save your gpa, instructional design 101 for beginners, how to make getting into college easier, why the dimo autopi is the perfect holiday gift, what part do grades play in college admissions, questions that high school students have about college admissions, 3 ways to make warhammer terrain, 3 ways to brainstorm alone, how to write a magazine article.

magazine writing on article


Writing a magazine article can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Whether you’re a professional journalist or a freelancer looking to expand your portfolio, it’s important to know the keys to creating compelling and engaging content. In this guide, we will explore step-by-step instructions on how to write a magazine article that will captivate your readers.

1. Research Your Subject

Before starting your article, it’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of your subject matter. Begin by researching online sources, books, and articles related to the topic. Additionally, interviews with experts in the field can provide valuable insights and unique angles for your story.

2. Determine the Article’s Purpose

Determine the primary purpose of your article – is it to inform, entertain, or persuade? Keep this objective in mind throughout the writing process to ensure a focused and coherent piece.

3. Identify Your Target Audience

Understanding who your target audience is will help you tailor your content appropriately. Consider factors like age, interests, and demographics to create an article that resonates with readers on a personal level.

4. Create a Captivating Headline

A great headline grabs readers’ attention and encourages them to dive deeper into the article. It should be concise, relatable, and accurately convey the overall theme of the story.

5. Organize Your Thoughts

Before you begin writing the article itself, create an outline of your main points and supporting details. This will serve as a roadmap for structuring your ideas logically and coherently.

6. Write Engaging Body Content

Start with a strong lead that catches readers’ attention from the get-go – this can be an interesting anecdote, shocking fact or statistic, or captivating quote related to your topic. The body of your article should then provide well-researched information, fascinating details, and compelling storytelling that keeps readers engaged from start to finish.

7. Utilize Quotes and Anecdotes

Incorporating quotes and anecdotes within your article can add depth and credibility to your story. These elements bring both a human touch and expert opinion to your writing.

8. Use Subheadings for Organization

Divide your article into sections using subheadings that make it easy for readers to skim the content and get a sense of the overall structure. Subheadings also serve as a guide through the information, allowing readers to quickly find relevant sections.

9. Edit and Revise Your Work

Editing is crucial in producing high-quality content. After completing a first draft of your article, take time away from it before returning with fresh eyes. Review your work carefully for grammar, syntax, punctuation, and fact-checking. Ask colleagues or friends for feedback as well – an unbiased perspective can lead to valuable suggestions.

10. Adapt Your Writing Style to the Magazine

Each magazine has its unique voice and style guidelines. Make sure you are familiar with these requirements before submitting your article, tweaking your text accordingly.

By following these steps – from researching your subject matter and understanding your target audience to editing and adapting your writing – you’ll be well-equipped to write magazine articles that captivate readers, inspire conversation, and showcase your talents as a writer. Happy writing!

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Writing Tips Oasis

Writing Tips Oasis

How to Write a Magazine Article

By Smitha Abraham

how to write a magazine article

Writing a magazine article may sound easy to many, but writing that warrants a second look is what matters. So, if you are a newbie in the field of magazine writing and want to establish yourself as a well-grounded writer, read on to learn how to write a magazine article.

Know your audience

Before you start writing an article, ask yourself who your audience is. Your audience may be college-goers, pre-teens, adult readers or senior citizens. Once you know your readers, then you need to customize your writing accordingly. You should also be able to gauge the needs of your readers: What do your readers like to read? What do they want to know? It will be easier for you to write after you have done a sound research on readers’ needs.

Create a writing portfolio

You may be an excellent writer; but if you do not have anything in hand to prove your caliber, then all your efforts remain futile. The first thing that potential magazine employers ask for is writing samples. So, create your writing portfolio. Include your articles, stories or whatever you have written. If you do not have any samples, then make it a point to write a few and keep them ready. You could write a phone review or a movie review. The idea is to write something.

Customize your writing

Writing in your own style may not work all the time. Different magazines have different styles. For instance, somebody may want you to write a short write-up on jewelry. Others may need you to write in SEO style by including a few keywords of their choice. So find out the exact needs and tailor your writing accordingly. Ensure you do a thorough job before you mail your writing. Query your employer before you start writing if you have doubts.

Write using a structure

Write with a structure in mind. You may not be drafting a formal letter all the time. But if you have ideas and a proper structure for your ideas to pan out, that makes your job easier. Do not just flump your ideas on paper or digress from your topic. That will only lead to rewrites. So planning is important. If you want write an article on adventure, you can provide an article title like “Hard-core Adventures Await You In New Zealand” instead of just saying “Adventures in New Zealand.”

Proofread your writing

Not everybody likes to spend time proofreading your articles. So ensure that you check your articles for spelling, grammar and punctuation. You could do your proofreading a few hours after you write or the next day. This will help you in looking at your writing from a fresh angle. You may also have more ideas to incorporate in your article.

Respect deadlines

Some employers may provide you a deadline, while others may not be too particular about deadlines. If you are provided a deadline, ensure you adhere to it. In case you are not able to meet the deadline, then inform your employer accordingly. Missing deadlines or not informing about the delay beforehand is highly unprofessional.

Be open to feedback

Feedback is crucial to all writers. Make sure you ask for feedback from your potential employer. You may receive a lot of corrections or suggestions in your writing. But do not let it demoralize you. Learn from your feedback and improve your writing.

Hopefully, these pointers should help you in some way. So take your pen and ink your thoughts!

Image credit: Jamie on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0 [author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Smitha-Abraham.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]I’m Smitha Abraham. I love traveling in my flights of imagination and use these flights to craft short stories and poetry. I am a budding writer from India. My passions are reading, creative writing, listening to music, learning new languages, meeting new people, getting acquainted with different cultures and traveling. Authors like Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, genres like magic realism, historical romance, and writing styles that are imaginative and flow effortlessly fascinate me. I love to unwind with a book curled up on a sofa or by gazing at the stars by the sea shore. I am a nature lover and spending time admiring the sunset and sunrise is relaxing for me.[/author_info] [/author]

Knowledge Base > Magazines > How to Write a Magazine Article? 12 Golden Rules

How to Write a Magazine Article? 12 Golden Rules

write magazine article

Although the number of magazines is shrinking in the digital age, many magazines have moved online. Many magazines created by online magazine maker are still popular, and authors enjoy fame and respect. That’s why, for many freelance writers, writing articles in magazines is often a career goal – because the pay can be ten times more per word than writing articles or texts for the local newspaper.

Writing magazine articles requires a different skill set than writing blog posts, screenplays, or advertisements. What’s more, as a magazine writer, more than in any other industry, you need to specialize to succeed. You write articles about history differently, sports differently, and sports history in a different way still.

A talent for writing, a love of meticulous research, and flexibility in creating texts are vital skills you need to master. Therefore, many people are interested in creating and publishing their own magazine need to master this specific style and learn how to write a magazine article.

What is a magazine article?

What is a magazine.

A magazine is a publication that is a collection of articles that appears regularly. The magazine articles can be about any topic, as well as topics that interest a specific group, such as sports fans, music fans, or board game enthusiasts.

A magazine can be published weekly, monthly, bimonthly, or only a few times a year. Most magazines are published once a week or once a month. Most magazine articles do not have a list of sources and are written by regular magazine editors and writers, rarely freelance writers.

what is a magazine

Most magazine articles are easy to read and don’t take too long to read. They are often illustrated with photos or other images, and are written with simple but remarkable fonts . Today, magazines are increasingly being replaced by websites, but there are still many magazines on various topics.

A magazine article is a specific text that can be found in a magazine or newspaper. It can be a report, a profile of an important person, an opinion piece, a discussion of a topic or a personal essay. Depending on the topic, a magazine article is usually 1,000 to 5,000 words long.

The magazine usually employs a group of editors who come up with a theme for each issue and relevant article ideas. This way, all the articles and features in the issue will have something in common. A sports magazine might talk about the start of a new season, a political magazine about an upcoming election, and a Valentine’s Day issue might be about romance.

magazine article mock up

How the format of a magazine article differs from that of a newspaper or other articles? In a newspaper that comes out every day, put the most important parts of the story first. Newspaper articles are usually read once and aren’t supposed to influence anyone. It has to be news, something you want to read.

On the other hand, a good magazine article should often start with a mystery, a question, or a situation that makes the reader want to read on. Daily newspaper articles should be unbiased descriptions of what happened, while magazine articles, often subjective, can cover a particular topic from a certain angle. To learn how to write a magazine article, you need to know what the magazine is about and how to appeal to its readers.

Create a digital magazine with Publuu

Today, more and more people are creating magazines in purely digital form. Publuu converts PDF files into interactive digital magazines that you can easily view and share online. With support for HTML5 and vector fonts, your articles will look beautiful on any device, without the need to download additional apps.

Publuu makes your magazine article look and sound like the printed versions. Converting a regular PDF file into a flipping e-magazine using this service is extremely easy and fast.

Publuu’s online magazine example

View more online magazine examples


With Publuu, your readers can flip through the pages just as they would with a real paper magazine, but that’s not all. Rich multimedia capabilities, analytics, and easy access make many people publish content for free on Publuu.

Your audience, and you, can embed your magazines in websites or emails, or share them on social media platforms. It only takes one click to go to your magazine and start reading interesting articles.

Types and examples of magazine articles

Magazine editors categorize articles by type and often mention them in publication’s submission guidelines, so knowing these types by name will help you communicate with the editor. These are: First Person Article, Opinion Piece, Information or Service Piece, Personality Profile, and Think Piece. Many news articles, how-to articles, and reviews can also be found in magazines, but they are slightly different, and many of these have moved online, to digital magazines . Articles can also feature essays or humor pieces.

magazine reading

First Person Article

First-person magazine articles are written in the first person because they are based on personal experience. Depending on their length and newsworthiness, they can be sold as feature articles or essays. They are frequently personal accounts, especially interesting if they are written by a well-known magazine writer or celebrity. Typically, the purpose of such an article is stated in the first line or paragraph to hook the magazine’s target audience, such as “I voted for this politician, and now I regret my life choices.” When you write a magazine article like this one, you should present an unpopular or overlooked point of view from a fresh perspective.

Opinion Piece

This kind of magazine writing piece or opinion essay is less personal than the First-Person Article, but it still requires a narrow focus on a specific topic. The reader’s main question is, “Why are you qualified to render an opinion?” Everyone has an opinion, but why should anyone read yours?

If you’re an expert on this subject, let the reader know right away. Don’t criticize music trends if you’re not a musician! Demonstrate your knowledge, and support your opinion with up-to-date information and credentials.

Information/Service Piece

An informational or service piece expands the reader’s understanding of a particular subject. This can be a guide, a list of important issues. You can either be the expert or interview one. These are extremely pertinent to a specific industry. In a sports magazine article, you can explain a complete history of a sports team and its roster for the upcoming season.

You can expect some in-depth knowledge if the article title contains the phrases like Myths about or Secrets of. Explain everything you know: magazine journalism is different than being a freelance writer in that you should have some industry knowledge already.

Personality profile

This type of magazine article can present a silhouette of an important or relevant person – a politician, a political activist, a sports legend… If you’re writing for a video game magazine you can showcase a famous game designer or even an entire article can be about a game character like Lara Croft or Guybrush Threepwood, if the fictional character is detailed enough! Explain why readers will find this person interesting or noteworthy.

Think Piece

Written in an investigative tone, the think piece frequently shows the downside or less popular ideas of a popular industry aspect. This magazine article could also explain why something is popular or why a political party lost elections. A think piece is more in-depth than most feature articles and necessitates credibility. Confirm your thesis by interviewing analysts and experts. This type of article can be also found in zines , self-published magazines in small circulation, which often focus on niche hobbies, counterculture groups, or subcultures. If you would like to expend your knowledge about interviewing, make sure to check our guide on how to write an interview article .

How to start a magazine article?

Most creative writing professionals would agree that the best way to start writing a magazine article is with a strong opening sentence. A feature article must draw the attention of your target audience, and grab them from the go.

You can start by asking the reader a question which you will answer in the text of the article – for instance “Did you know that most users of Windows never use 80% of their functions – and that’s a good thing?”. In the content of your magazine articles you will be able to answer this question.

Another example of a good magazine article beginning is storytelling – human brains are fascinated by stories. Starting your example with “20 years ago no one in the industry knew what a genitine was, but now their inventor is one of the most influential people” can draw attention and spike up curiosity.


A great example is also a shocking quote – a compelling idea that goes against the grain is sure to capture the reader’s attention.

Most creative magazine article ideas

Even the most experienced journalists can often be looking for ideas for great articles. How to write a magazine article if you don’t have the slightest idea? Here are some of our suggestions:

Take a look at your specialty. If you’re a freelance writer, it’s a good idea to write about what you know. Delve into a topic thoroughly, and you’ll eventually find your niche and you might move from freelance writing jobs to magazine writing! Why? Having a writing specialty will make magazine editors think of you when story ideas in that genre come up.

Check out what’s trending. When browsing popular stories on social networks, many freelancers choose to write about current events. Lists of popular articles can help you understand what to focus your efforts on. Keep in mind that an article for national magazines needs to be well researched, and what’s trending now may change before the magazine finally comes out.

Reach out to the classics. Nostalgia always sells well. You can go back to books or movies that people remember from their youth or, for example, summarize the last year. Lists and numbers always look good!

12 rules on how to write great magazine articles

magazine making

1. Write what you know about

If your articles are really fascinating and you know what you are writing about, you have a better chance of getting published, whether in a local newspaper or in a major magazine. Writing requires researching your chosen issue thoroughly. Identify perspectives that have not been explored before – describe something from the perspective of a woman, a minority, or a worker.

2. Research how you should write

Check the writing style requirements or guidelines of the magazines to which you want to submit your work. Each magazine has its own set of guidelines on what topics, manner and tone to use. Check out Strunk and White Elements of Style for tips on writing styles, as this is what many magazines draw from.

3. Remember to be flexible

One of the most valuable writing talents a journalist can possess is flexibility. You may find that you discover completely new facts while writing a magazine article and completely change your approach. Maybe you’ll change your mind 180 degrees and instead of attacking someone, you’ll defend them – anything to attract attention.

4. Make connections and meet people

Networking is important in any business, especially for freelance writers who want to make a jump to magazine writing. Editors regularly quit one magazine to work for another. Therefore, remember to know the people first and foremost than the magazine they work for.

5. Prepare a query letter

A query letter tells the editors why your magazine article is important, whether you think someone will want to read it and why you feel obligated to write it. Add to it a text sample and some information about yourself as a writer. Even a local magazine might not be aware of who you are, after all.

6. Prepare an outline

Always before writing a text have an outline that you can use when composing your articles. It must contain the important ideas, the content of the article body and the summary, the points you will include in it. You will find that it is easier to fill such a framework with your own content.

7. Meet the experts

You need to know pundits in your industry. There are several methods of locating experts, from networking to calling organizations or agencies in your field of interest. If you want to meet a police officer, call the police station and ask if someone could talk to a journalist – many people are tempted if you promise them a feature article.

8. Talk to experts

Once you get a contact for an expert, do your best to make the expert look as good as possible. The more prominent the expert, the better your text. Make a list of questions in advance and compare it with the outline to make sure you don’t forget anything. Remember to accurately describe your expert’s achievements and personal data.

9. Create a memorable title

This step can occur at any point in the process of writing an article for a magazine. Sometimes the whole article starts with a good title! However, there is nothing wrong with waiting until the article is finished before coming up with a title. The most important thing is that the title is catchy – editors-in-chief love that!

10. To write, you have to read

You never know where you will come across an inspiring text. It’s your duty as a good writer to read everything that falls into your hands, whether it’s articles on the front pages of major publications or small blog posts. Learn about the various issues that may be useful to your magazine writing skills .

11. Add a strong ending

End with a strong concluding remark that informs or elaborates on the theme of your piece. The last paragraph should make the reader satisfied, but also curious about the future progress of the issue. He must wonder “what’s next?” and answer the important questions himself.

12. Don’t give up

Writers are rejected hundreds of times, especially when they are initially learning how to create articles for magazines. However, even a seasoned freelance writer and professional journalist can get rejected. The most successful authors simply keep writing – being rejected is part of magazine writing. Freelance writing is a good school of writing career – including coping with rejection.

Now you know how to write a magazine article that will be engaging and interesting. Despite the digitalization of the market, writing magazine articles still offers many possibilities to a freelance writer or a seasoned professional. The market of press and magazines is evolving fast, but the basic principles of journalistic integrity stay the same!

You may be also interested in:

How To Publish Digital Magazine? How to Make a Magazine Cover With a Template? 5 Reasons to Start Using a Magazine Maker

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Jakub Osiejewski is an experienced freelance writer and editor. He has written for various publications, including magazines, newspapers and websites. He is also a skilled layout graphic designer and knows exactly how to create visually appealing and informative PDFs and flipbooks!

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How to write an article for a magazine in 2023.

Pitching a magazine is a whole other beast. When you land a print placement, however, you'll score major credibility points as a writer or industry expert.

How to Write an Article for a Magazine in 2023

Writing an article for your local newspaper, trade magazines, or national magazines is simpler than you think. But simple doesn’t mean easy.

Freelance writers and industry leaders alike want to land a feature article in a print publication, because magazine writing projects authority and expertise. Media publications often reserve their print edition for the best magazine articles, and a features editor or managing editor will be highly selective with which freelance writers they tap for various article opportunities.

Key Takeaways

  • Magazine and newspaper bylines are considered very reputable, since these publications have limited space.
  • The timing of your pitch is important, as magazines are produced weeks or even months in advance.
  • It's good to be on editors' radar, as they often are shuffling an issue up until the 11th hour, and may want to assign you a piece with quick turnaround to fill a hole.

It’s not just the high quality of the article that makes print pitching different. In magazine journalism , brands often put their issues together months in advance to ensure they’re printed, shipped, and sold on schedule.

In addition to pitching a good magazine article, you also need to send your query letter at the right time in the magazine production process before you start writing. Newspaper articles don’t require as long of a lead time. It all depends on the publication’s submission guidelines.

Related: How to Pitch an Article: 72 Outlet How-Tos

If you’d love to one day write an opinion article, pen a personal essay, or just get more freelance writing jobs with popular magazines, here is what to keep in mind in magazine writing.

Writing for Magazines: A Coveted Byline

Before the internet, media was mainly delivered through print journalism. A freelance writer or aspiring magazine writer would send a query letter to the editor, and magazine editors would decide which magazine articles to pursue, based not only on the article ideas themselves, but also how well they balance one another, based on personal experience.

In print, there is a finite amount of space on the page. In contrast, websites can publish all the articles — they just create a new URL for every article — so the constraint is editor and writer labor, not lack of space or word count. Article placement in a magazine has greater merit and is considered more valuable, even if it’s a local magazine.

Important : It can be tough to pitch a big feature story right out of the gate. Consider pitching a smaller story in the 700-1,200 word range first to build rapport with an editor.

Many of today’s magazines have been around for decades, if not longer, and they’ve built up a track record for editorial quality and influence. We assume that, if someone has written for a reputable magazine or national publications for a particular topic, they are a skilled freelance writer.

In our digital age, many of the most established brands continue to publish a physical magazine, even if the magazine’s readership has declined, because it cements their status as an influential publication. Often, if you write a magazine article, it will also be used online.

This was the case for me when writing an article for OUT magazine. My entire article was accepted, and received a two-page spread in the mag, but it was also published as a post online.

magazine writing on article

Pro tip: acquire physical copies of your placements so you can document them and use them online, ethically.

How to Pitch a Magazine in 3 Steps

Pitching a physical magazine is similar to other pitching efforts. The single most important factor to a winning pitch is that it’s relevant to the magazine’s target audience. The following three steps will help you ensure your pitch is on point every time; even if your pitch isn’t accepted, editors keep an eye on staff writers and other writers who consistently send relevant pitches, and eventually you will see progress.

Step 1: Research Current and Upcoming Magazine Topics

Read the magazine! What you think a magazine covers based on what you read ten years ago may not be what the outlet covers at all anymore. Browse both the publication’s website and the physical magazine itself to get a sense of their writing and what the brand is currently covering. Look at the news articles and writing styles.

Additionally, for physical magazines, it’s worth your time to poke around online for either a media kit or an editorial calendar . These kits are sales PDFs a magazine makes publicly available to attract prospective advertisers. The kit comes out in the fall or winter each year for the upcoming year, and lists the planned theme of every issue. This can be helpful intel when pitching big publications.

To see what the online version of a brand has previously covered, you can do a web search on Google for that specific site. Start your search with “site:www.outletdomain.com”, then search a topic. In this example, I searched past coverage of Gen Z on Entrepreneur’s website.

magazine writing on article

The "site:" command in a Google search query will let you filter search results to a particular website.

Knowing an outlet will help you tailor your article pitch to fit the voice, style, and format of the target publication.

Step 2: To Locate Gatekeepers, Find a Masthead

Now comes the tricky part: pitching the editor or decision-maker who oversees print coverage. Luckily, most magazines’ editors and other personnel responsible for bringing a magazine to life will be credited in both the physical issue and online. This list is called a masthead.

A major magazine will engage many writers and other contractors to bring an issue to life, but the staff who are listed on the masthead are almost always directly involved in the production process. This is helpful research material.

For example, searching “Allure masthead” led me directly to their digital masthead page.

magazine writing on article

The Allure masthead. Screenshot captured November 1, 2022.

From the masthead, do some digging on where these different editors are hanging out outline. Are they on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram? Are they writing articles for magazines as well? What stories are they currently publishing? Also track down their email address.

Step 3: Craft a Strong, Print-Specific Pitch

In print article pitching, every word needs to earn its way onto the page. Your article pitch should have a compelling idea and a fresh perspective; specify whether you want to be considered for print publication, online publication, or both.

Most PR pitches are templates, press releases, or cookie-cutter stock pitches. The key to getting momentum in an article pitch is to hook the editor or journalist in the first couple of sentences. Indicate that your article pitch is not a stock pitch, and make a case for why this article is a perfect fit for them.

Pitch Your Next Magazine Article Today

Article pitching can feel overwhelming at first, but at the end of the day, story ideas just like yours are what make it to newsstands and get read by millions. Remain pleasantly persistent, and eventually your pitching efforts will pay off.

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50 Unbeatable Topics for Article Writing in School Magazine 2024

50 Unbeatable Topics for Article Writing in School Magazine 2024

Are you looking for interesting and engaging topics to write about in your school magazine ? Look no further! In this article , we have compiled a list of 50 unbeatable topics that will captivate your readers and make your articles stand out. Whether you are interested in science, technology, history, or current events , there is something for everyone on this list. So, let's dive in and explore these exciting topics!

10 Important Statistics about School Magazines

10 important statistics about school magazines

  • Over 80% of students read their school magazine regularly.
  • 70% of students find the articles in their school magazine informative and interesting.
  • School magazines have been shown to improve students' writing and critical thinking skills .
  • 75% of teachers believe that school magazines help foster a sense of community among students.
  • School magazines are an effective platform for showcasing students' creativity and talent.
  • 90% of parents enjoy reading their child's school magazine.
  • School magazines provide a valuable opportunity for students to develop their research and interviewing skills .
  • 65% of students feel proud to see their work published in their school magazine.
  • School magazines are a great way to promote school events and activities.
  • Reading school magazines has been linked to improved academic performance.

1. The Importance of STEM Education in the 21st Century

1  the importance of stem education in the 21st century

STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) plays a crucial role in preparing students for the challenges of the 21st century. In this article, we will explore the importance of STEM education and its impact on students' future careers. We will also discuss the various initiatives and programs that schools can implement to promote STEM learning.

Why is STEM Education Important?

STEM education is important because it equips students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in a rapidly changing world. By focusing on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, students develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills. These skills are highly valued in today's job market , where there is a growing demand for professionals in STEM fields.

2. The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Education

2  the role of artificial intelligence in education

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize education by personalizing learning experiences, automating administrative tasks, and providing valuable insights into student performance . In this article, we will explore the role of AI in education and discuss its benefits and challenges. We will also examine how AI can be integrated into classrooms to enhance teaching and learning.

Benefits of AI in Education

AI can provide personalized learning experiences by adapting to individual students' needs and preferences. It can also automate administrative tasks, such as grading and scheduling, freeing up teachers' time to focus on instruction. Additionally, AI can analyze large amounts of data to identify patterns and trends in student performance, enabling educators to make data -driven decisions.

3. The Impact of Social Media on Teenagers

3  the impact of social media on teenagers

Social media has become an integral part of teenagers' lives, but its impact on their well-being and mental health is a topic of concern. In this article, we will explore the positive and negative effects of social media on teenagers and discuss strategies for promoting responsible social media use.

Positive Effects of Social Media

Social media allows teenagers to connect with friends and family, share their thoughts and experiences, and access information and resources. It can also provide a platform for self-expression and creativity. Additionally, social media can be a powerful tool for raising awareness about important issues and promoting social change.

4. The History and Significance of Women's Rights Movements

4  the history and significance of women s rights movements

Women's rights movements have played a crucial role in advancing gender equality and empowering women throughout history. In this article, we will explore the history and significance of women's rights movements, from the suffrage movement to the modern-day feminist movement. We will also discuss the challenges that women still face today and the ongoing fight for gender equality.

The Suffrage Movement

The suffrage movement, which began in the late 19th century, fought for women's right to vote. It was a long and hard-fought battle, but it ultimately led to the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, granting women the right to vote. The suffrage movement laid the foundation for future women's rights movements and inspired women around the world to fight for their rights.

5. The Impact of Climate Change on Our Planet

5  the impact of climate change on our planet

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, with far-reaching consequences for our planet and future generations. In this article, we will explore the causes and effects of climate change and discuss the importance of taking action to mitigate its impact.

Causes of Climate Change

Climate change is primarily caused by human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and industrial processes. These activities release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, trapping heat and causing the Earth's temperature to rise. Other factors, such as natural disasters and changes in solar radiation, can also contribute to climate change.

6. The Benefits of Outdoor Education

6  the benefits of outdoor education

Outdoor education provides students with unique learning opportunities and helps foster a deeper connection with the natural world. In this article, we will explore the benefits of outdoor education and discuss how schools can incorporate outdoor learning into their curriculum.

Benefits of Outdoor Education

Outdoor education promotes physical fitness and encourages students to engage in physical activity. It also enhances students' problem-solving and critical thinking skills by challenging them to navigate unfamiliar environments and overcome obstacles. Additionally, outdoor education can improve students' mental health and well-being by providing a break from the pressures of academic life.

7. The Evolution of Technology in Education

7  the evolution of technology in education

Technology has transformed the way we teach and learn, revolutionizing classrooms around the world. In this article, we will explore the evolution of technology in education, from the introduction of computers to the rise of online learning platforms . We will also discuss the benefits and challenges of integrating technology into classrooms.

The Rise of Online Learning

Online learning has become increasingly popular in recent years, offering students the flexibility to learn at their own pace and access educational resources from anywhere in the world. Online learning platforms provide a wide range of courses and programs, catering to diverse learning needs and interests. However, online learning also presents challenges, such as the need for self-discipline and motivation.

8. The Importance of Mental Health Awareness in Schools

8  the importance of mental health awareness in schools

Mental health issues among students are on the rise, highlighting the need for increased awareness and support in schools. In this article, we will explore the importance of mental health awareness in schools and discuss strategies for promoting positive mental health among students.

Strategies for Promoting Positive Mental Health

Schools can promote positive mental health by implementing comprehensive mental health programs, providing access to counseling services, and creating a supportive and inclusive school environment. It is also important to educate students about mental health and destigmatize seeking help for mental health issues.

9. The Impact of Literature on Society

Literature has the power to shape our thoughts, beliefs, and values, making it an important tool for social change. In this article, we will explore the impact of literature on society and discuss how it can inspire empathy, promote understanding, and challenge societal norms.

The Power of Storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful form of communication that has been used for centuries to convey ideas, share experiences, and preserve cultural heritage. Through literature, authors can tell stories that resonate with readers, evoke emotions, and provoke thought. Literature can also provide a platform for marginalized voices and amplify diverse perspectives.

There you have it - 50 unbeatable topics for article writing in your school magazine! Whether you choose to explore the importance of STEM education, the impact of social media on teenagers, or the history of women's rights movements, these topics are sure to captivate your readers and spark meaningful discussions. So, get writing and make your school magazine a must-read publication!

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It lets you write hundreds of articles on any topic, giving you more clicks to your site.

magazine writing on article

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What are some interesting topics for article writing for a school magazine in 2023?

Some interesting topics for article writing for a school magazine in 2023 could include the impact of technology on education, the importance of mental health awareness among students, and the role of social media in shaping teenage culture.

How can I choose a topic for article writing for a school magazine in 2023?

To choose a topic for article writing for a school magazine in 2023, you can consider current events, student interests, and issues relevant to your school community. You can also brainstorm ideas with your peers, teachers, or advisors to find a topic that is both engaging and informative.

What are some tips for writing articles for a school magazine in 2023?

Some tips for writing articles for a school magazine in 2023 include conducting thorough research, using credible sources, organizing your ideas in a clear and logical manner, and proofreading your work for grammar and spelling errors. It is also important to write in a style that is appropriate for your target audience and to include relevant visuals or multimedia elements to enhance the article.

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Asim Akhtar

Asim is the CEO & founder of AtOnce. After 5 years of marketing & customer service experience, he's now using Artificial Intelligence to save people time.

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A Coder Considers the Waning Days of the Craft

By James Somers

I have always taken it for granted that, just as my parents made sure that I could read and write, I would make sure that my kids could program computers. It is among the newer arts but also among the most essential, and ever more so by the day, encompassing everything from filmmaking to physics. Fluency with code would round out my children’s literacy—and keep them employable. But as I write this my wife is pregnant with our first child, due in about three weeks. I code professionally, but, by the time that child can type, coding as a valuable skill might have faded from the world.

I first began to believe this on a Friday morning this past summer, while working on a small hobby project. A few months back, my friend Ben and I had resolved to create a Times -style crossword puzzle entirely by computer. In 2018, we’d made a Saturday puzzle with the help of software and were surprised by how little we contributed—just applying our taste here and there. Now we would attempt to build a crossword-making program that didn’t require a human touch.

When we’ve taken on projects like this in the past, they’ve had both a hardware component and a software component, with Ben’s strengths running toward the former. We once made a neon sign that would glow when the subway was approaching the stop near our apartments. Ben bent the glass and wired up the transformer’s circuit board. I wrote code to process the transit data. Ben has some professional coding experience of his own, but it was brief, shallow, and now about twenty years out of date; the serious coding was left to me. For the new crossword project, though, Ben had introduced a third party. He’d signed up for a ChatGPT Plus subscription and was using GPT-4 as a coding assistant.

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Something strange started happening. Ben and I would talk about a bit of software we wanted for the project. Then, a shockingly short time later, Ben would deliver it himself. At one point, we wanted a command that would print a hundred random lines from a dictionary file. I thought about the problem for a few minutes, and, when thinking failed, tried Googling. I made some false starts using what I could gather, and while I did my thing—programming—Ben told GPT-4 what he wanted and got code that ran perfectly.

Fine: commands like those are notoriously fussy, and everybody looks them up anyway. It’s not real programming. A few days later, Ben talked about how it would be nice to have an iPhone app to rate words from the dictionary. But he had no idea what a pain it is to make an iPhone app. I’d tried a few times and never got beyond something that half worked. I found Apple’s programming environment forbidding. You had to learn not just a new language but a new program for editing and running code; you had to learn a zoo of “U.I. components” and all the complicated ways of stitching them together; and, finally, you had to figure out how to package the app. The mountain of new things to learn never seemed worth it. The next morning, I woke up to an app in my in-box that did exactly what Ben had said he wanted. It worked perfectly, and even had a cute design. Ben said that he’d made it in a few hours. GPT-4 had done most of the heavy lifting.

By now, most people have had experiences with A.I. Not everyone has been impressed. Ben recently said, “I didn’t start really respecting it until I started having it write code for me.” I suspect that non-programmers who are skeptical by nature, and who have seen ChatGPT turn out wooden prose or bogus facts, are still underestimating what’s happening.

Bodies of knowledge and skills that have traditionally taken lifetimes to master are being swallowed at a gulp. Coding has always felt to me like an endlessly deep and rich domain. Now I find myself wanting to write a eulogy for it. I keep thinking of Lee Sedol. Sedol was one of the world’s best Go players, and a national hero in South Korea, but is now best known for losing, in 2016, to a computer program called AlphaGo. Sedol had walked into the competition believing that he would easily defeat the A.I. By the end of the days-long match, he was proud of having eked out a single game. As it became clear that he was going to lose, Sedol said, in a press conference, “I want to apologize for being so powerless.” He retired three years later. Sedol seemed weighed down by a question that has started to feel familiar, and urgent: What will become of this thing I’ve given so much of my life to?

My first enchantment with computers came when I was about six years old, in Montreal in the early nineties, playing Mortal Kombat with my oldest brother. He told me about some “fatalities”—gruesome, witty ways of killing your opponent. Neither of us knew how to inflict them. He dialled up an FTP server (where files were stored) in an MS-DOS terminal and typed obscure commands. Soon, he had printed out a page of codes—instructions for every fatality in the game. We went back to the basement and exploded each other’s heads.

I thought that my brother was a hacker. Like many programmers, I dreamed of breaking into and controlling remote systems. The point wasn’t to cause mayhem—it was to find hidden places and learn hidden things. “My crime is that of curiosity,” goes “The Hacker’s Manifesto,” written in 1986 by Loyd Blankenship. My favorite scene from the 1995 movie “Hackers” is when Dade Murphy, a newcomer, proves himself at an underground club. Someone starts pulling a rainbow of computer books out of a backpack, and Dade recognizes each one from the cover: the green book on international Unix environments; the red one on N.S.A.-trusted networks; the one with the pink-shirted guy on I.B.M. PCs. Dade puts his expertise to use when he turns on the sprinkler system at school, and helps right the ballast of an oil tanker—all by tap-tapping away at a keyboard. The lesson was that knowledge is power.

But how do you actually learn to hack? My family had settled in New Jersey by the time I was in fifth grade, and when I was in high school I went to the Borders bookstore in the Short Hills mall and bought “Beginning Visual C++,” by Ivor Horton. It ran to twelve hundred pages—my first grimoire. Like many tutorials, it was easy at first and then, suddenly, it wasn’t. Medieval students called the moment at which casual learners fail the pons asinorum , or “bridge of asses.” The term was inspired by Proposition 5 of Euclid’s Elements I, the first truly difficult idea in the book. Those who crossed the bridge would go on to master geometry; those who didn’t would remain dabblers. Section 4.3 of “Beginning Visual C++,” on “Dynamic Memory Allocation,” was my bridge of asses. I did not cross.

But neither did I drop the subject. I remember the moment things began to turn. I was on a long-haul flight, and I’d brought along a boxy black laptop and a CD- ROM with the Borland C++ compiler. A compiler translates code you write into code that the machine can run; I had been struggling for days to get this one to work. By convention, every coder’s first program does nothing but generate the words “Hello, world.” When I tried to run my version, I just got angry error messages. Whenever I fixed one problem, another cropped up. I had read the “Harry Potter” books and felt as if I were in possession of a broom but had not yet learned the incantation to make it fly. Knowing what might be possible if I did, I kept at it with single-minded devotion. What I learned was that programming is not really about knowledge or skill but simply about patience, or maybe obsession. Programmers are people who can endure an endless parade of tedious obstacles. Imagine explaining to a simpleton how to assemble furniture over the phone, with no pictures, in a language you barely speak. Imagine, too, that the only response you ever get is that you’ve suggested an absurdity and the whole thing has gone awry. All the sweeter, then, when you manage to get something assembled. I have a distinct memory of lying on my stomach in the airplane aisle, and then hitting Enter one last time. I sat up. The computer, for once, had done what I’d told it to do. The words “Hello, world” appeared above my cursor, now in the computer’s own voice. It seemed as if an intelligence had woken up and introduced itself to me.

Most of us never became the kind of hackers depicted in “Hackers.” To “hack,” in the parlance of a programmer, is just to tinker—to express ingenuity through code. I never formally studied programming; I just kept messing around, making computers do helpful or delightful little things. In my freshman year of college, I knew that I’d be on the road during the third round of the 2006 Masters Tournament, when Tiger Woods was moving up the field, and I wanted to know what was happening in real time. So I made a program that scraped the leaderboard on pgatour.com and sent me a text message anytime he birdied or bogeyed. Later, after reading “Ulysses” in an English class, I wrote a program that pulled random sentences from the book, counted their syllables, and assembled haikus—a more primitive regurgitation of language than you’d get from a chatbot these days, but nonetheless capable, I thought, of real poetry:

I’ll flay him alive Uncertainly he waited Heavy of the past

I began taking coding seriously. I offered to do programming for a friend’s startup. The world of computing, I came to learn, is vast but organized almost geologically, as if deposited in layers. From the Web browser down to the transistor, each sub-area or system is built atop some other, older sub-area or system, the layers dense but legible. The more one digs, the more one develops what the race-car driver Jackie Stewart called “mechanical sympathy,” a sense for the machine’s strengths and limits, of what one could make it do.

At my friend’s company, I felt my mechanical sympathy developing. In my sophomore year, I was watching “Jeopardy!” with a friend when he suggested that I make a playable version of the show. I thought about it for a few hours before deciding, with much disappointment, that it was beyond me. But when the idea came up again, in my junior year, I could see a way through it. I now had a better sense of what one could do with the machine. I spent the next fourteen hours building the game. Within weeks, playing “Jimbo Jeopardy!” had become a regular activity among my friends. The experience was profound. I could understand why people poured their lives into craft: there is nothing quite like watching someone enjoy a thing you’ve made.

In the midst of all this, I had gone full “Paper Chase” and begun ignoring my grades. I worked voraciously, just not on my coursework. One night, I took over a half-dozen machines in a basement computer lab to run a program in parallel. I laid printouts full of numbers across the floor, thinking through a pathfinding algorithm. The cost was that I experienced for real that recurring nightmare in which you show up for a final exam knowing nothing of the material. (Mine was in Real Analysis, in the math department.) In 2009, during the most severe financial crisis in decades, I graduated with a 2.9 G.P.A.

And yet I got my first full-time job easily. I had work experience as a programmer; nobody asked about my grades. For the young coder, these were boom times. Companies were getting into bidding wars over top programmers. Solicitations for experienced programmers were so aggressive that they complained about “recruiter spam.” The popularity of university computer-science programs was starting to explode. (My degree was in economics.) Coding “boot camps” sprang up that could credibly claim to turn beginners into high-salaried programmers in less than a year. At one of my first job interviews, in my early twenties, the C.E.O. asked how much I thought I deserved to get paid. I dared to name a number that faintly embarrassed me. He drew up a contract on the spot, offering ten per cent more. The skills of a “software engineer” were vaunted. At one company where I worked, someone got in trouble for using HipChat, a predecessor to Slack, to ask one of my colleagues a question. “Never HipChat an engineer directly,” he was told. We were too important for that.

This was an era of near-zero interest rates and extraordinary tech-sector growth. Certain norms were established. Companies like Google taught the industry that coders were to have free espresso and catered hot food, world-class health care and parental leave, on-site gyms and bike rooms, a casual dress code, and “twenty-per-cent time,” meaning that they could devote one day a week to working on whatever they pleased. Their skills were considered so crucial and delicate that a kind of superstition developed around the work. For instance, it was considered foolish to estimate how long a coding task might take, since at any moment the programmer might turn over a rock and discover a tangle of bugs. Deadlines were anathema. If the pressure to deliver ever got too intense, a coder needed only to speak the word “burnout” to buy a few months.

From the beginning, I had the sense that there was something wrongheaded in all this. Was what we did really so precious? How long could the boom last? In my teens, I had done a little Web design, and, at the time, that work had been in demand and highly esteemed. You could earn thousands of dollars for a project that took a weekend. But along came tools like Squarespace, which allowed pizzeria owners and freelance artists to make their own Web sites just by clicking around. For professional coders, a tranche of high-paying, relatively low-effort work disappeared.

“I should have known he has absolutely no morals—Ive seen how he loads a dishwasher.”

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The response from the programmer community to these developments was just, Yeah, you have to keep levelling up your skills. Learn difficult, obscure things. Software engineers, as a species, love automation. Inevitably, the best of them build tools that make other kinds of work obsolete. This very instinct explained why we were so well taken care of: code had immense leverage. One piece of software could affect the work of millions of people. Naturally, this sometimes displaced programmers themselves. We were to think of these advances as a tide coming in, nipping at our bare feet. So long as we kept learning we would stay dry. Sound advice—until there’s a tsunami.

When we were first allowed to use A.I. chatbots at work, for programming assistance, I studiously avoided them. I expected that my colleagues would, too. But soon I started seeing the telltale colors of an A.I. chat session—the zebra pattern of call-and-response—on programmers’ screens as I walked to my desk. A common refrain was that these tools made you more productive; in some cases, they helped you solve problems ten times faster.

I wasn’t sure I wanted that. I enjoy the act of programming and I like to feel useful. The tools I’m familiar with, like the text editor I use to format and to browse code, serve both ends. They enhance my practice of the craft—and, though they allow me to deliver work faster, I still feel that I deserve the credit. But A.I., as it was being described, seemed different. It provided a lot of help. I worried that it would rob me of both the joy of working on puzzles and the satisfaction of being the one who solved them. I could be infinitely productive, and all I’d have to show for it would be the products themselves.

The actual work product of most programmers is rarely exciting. In fact, it tends to be almost comically humdrum. A few months ago, I came home from the office and told my wife about what a great day I’d had wrestling a particularly fun problem. I was working on a program that generated a table, and someone had wanted to add a header that spanned more than one column—something that the custom layout engine we’d written didn’t support. The work was urgent: these tables were being used in important documents, wanted by important people. So I sequestered myself in a room for the better part of the afternoon. There were lots of lovely sub-problems: How should I allow users of the layout engine to convey that they want a column-spanning header? What should their code look like? And there were fiddly details that, if ignored, would cause bugs. For instance, what if one of the columns that the header was supposed to span got dropped because it didn’t have any data? I knew it was a good day because I had to pull out pen and pad—I was drawing out possible scenarios, checking and double-checking my logic.

But taking a bird’s-eye view of what happened that day? A table got a new header. It’s hard to imagine anything more mundane. For me, the pleasure was entirely in the process, not the product. And what would become of the process if it required nothing more than a three-minute ChatGPT session? Yes, our jobs as programmers involve many things besides literally writing code, such as coaching junior hires and designing systems at a high level. But coding has always been the root of it. Throughout my career, I have been interviewed and selected precisely for my ability to solve fiddly little programming puzzles. Suddenly, this ability was less important.

I had gathered as much from Ben, who kept telling me about the spectacular successes he’d been having with GPT-4. It turned out that it was not only good at the fiddly stuff but also had the qualities of a senior engineer: from a deep well of knowledge, it could suggest ways of approaching a problem. For one project, Ben had wired a small speaker and a red L.E.D. light bulb into the frame of a portrait of King Charles, the light standing in for the gem in his crown; the idea was that when you entered a message on an accompanying Web site the speaker would play a tune and the light would flash out the message in Morse code. (This was a gift for an eccentric British expat.) Programming the device to fetch new messages eluded Ben; it seemed to require specialized knowledge not just of the microcontroller he was using but of Firebase, the back-end server technology that stored the messages. Ben asked me for advice, and I mumbled a few possibilities; in truth, I wasn’t sure that what he wanted would be possible. Then he asked GPT-4. It told Ben that Firebase had a capability that would make the project much simpler. Here it was—and here was some code to use that would be compatible with the microcontroller.

Afraid to use GPT-4 myself—and feeling somewhat unclean about the prospect of paying OpenAI twenty dollars a month for it—I nonetheless started probing its capabilities, via Ben. We’d sit down to work on our crossword project, and I’d say, “Why don’t you try prompting it this way?” He’d offer me the keyboard. “No, you drive,” I’d say. Together, we developed a sense of what the A.I. could do. Ben, who had more experience with it than I did, seemed able to get more out of it in a stroke. As he later put it, his own neural network had begun to align with GPT-4’s. I would have said that he had achieved mechanical sympathy. Once, in a feat I found particularly astonishing, he had the A.I. build him a Snake game, like the one on old Nokia phones. But then, after a brief exchange with GPT-4, he got it to modify the game so that when you lost it would show you how far you strayed from the most efficient route. It took the bot about ten seconds to achieve this. It was a task that, frankly, I was not sure I could do myself.

In chess, which for decades now has been dominated by A.I., a player’s only hope is pairing up with a bot. Such half-human, half-A.I. teams, known as centaurs, might still be able to beat the best humans and the best A.I. engines working alone. Programming has not yet gone the way of chess. But the centaurs have arrived. GPT-4 on its own is, for the moment, a worse programmer than I am. Ben is much worse. But Ben plus GPT-4 is a dangerous thing.

It wasn’t long before I caved. I was making a little search tool at work and wanted to highlight the parts of the user’s query that matched the results. But I was splitting up the query by words in a way that made things much more complicated. I found myself short on patience. I started thinking about GPT-4. Perhaps instead of spending an afternoon programming I could spend some time “prompting,” or having a conversation with an A.I.

In a 1978 essay titled “On the Foolishness of ‘Natural Language Programming,’ ” the computer scientist Edsger W. Dijkstra argued that if you were to instruct computers not in a specialized language like C++ or Python but in your native tongue you’d be rejecting the very precision that made computers useful. Formal programming languages, he wrote, are “an amazingly effective tool for ruling out all sorts of nonsense that, when we use our native tongues, are almost impossible to avoid.” Dijkstra’s argument became a truism in programming circles. When the essay made the rounds on Reddit in 2014, a top commenter wrote, “I’m not sure which of the following is scariest. Just how trivially obvious this idea is” or the fact that “many still do not know it.”

When I first used GPT-4, I could see what Dijkstra was talking about. You can’t just say to the A.I., “Solve my problem.” That day may come, but for now it is more like an instrument you must learn to play. You have to specify what you want carefully, as though talking to a beginner. In the search-highlighting problem, I found myself asking GPT-4 to do too much at once, watching it fail, and then starting over. Each time, my prompts became less ambitious. By the end of the conversation, I wasn’t talking about search or highlighting; I had broken the problem into specific, abstract, unambiguous sub-problems that, together, would give me what I wanted.

Having found the A.I.’s level, I felt almost instantly that my working life had been transformed. Everywhere I looked I could see GPT-4-size holes; I understood, finally, why the screens around the office were always filled with chat sessions—and how Ben had become so productive. I opened myself up to trying it more often.

I returned to the crossword project. Our puzzle generator printed its output in an ugly text format, with lines like "s""c""a""r""*""k""u""n""i""s""*" "a""r""e""a" . I wanted to turn output like that into a pretty Web page that allowed me to explore the words in the grid, showing scoring information at a glance. But I knew the task would be tricky: each letter had to be tagged with the words it belonged to, both the across and the down. This was a detailed problem, one that could easily consume the better part of an evening. With the baby on the way, I was short on free evenings. So I began a conversation with GPT-4. Some back-and-forth was required; at one point, I had to read a few lines of code myself to understand what it was doing. But I did little of the kind of thinking I once believed to be constitutive of coding. I didn’t think about numbers, patterns, or loops; I didn’t use my mind to simulate the activity of the computer. As another coder, Geoffrey Litt, wrote after a similar experience, “I never engaged my detailed programmer brain.” So what did I do?

Perhaps what pushed Lee Sedol to retire from the game of Go was the sense that the game had been forever cheapened. When I got into programming, it was because computers felt like a form of magic. The machine gave you powers but required you to study its arcane secrets—to learn a spell language. This took a particular cast of mind. I felt selected. I devoted myself to tedium, to careful thinking, and to the accumulation of obscure knowledge. Then, one day, it became possible to achieve many of the same ends without the thinking and without the knowledge. Looked at in a certain light, this can make quite a lot of one’s working life seem like a waste of time.

But whenever I think about Sedol I think about chess. After machines conquered that game, some thirty years ago, the fear was that there would be no reason to play it anymore. Yet chess has never been more popular—A.I. has enlivened the game. A friend of mine picked it up recently. At all hours, he has access to an A.I. coach that can feed him chess problems just at the edge of his ability and can tell him, after he’s lost a game, exactly where he went wrong. Meanwhile, at the highest levels, grandmasters study moves the computer proposes as if reading tablets from the gods. Learning chess has never been easier; studying its deepest secrets has never been more exciting.

Computing is not yet overcome. GPT-4 is impressive, but a layperson can’t wield it the way a programmer can. I still feel secure in my profession. In fact, I feel somewhat more secure than before. As software gets easier to make, it’ll proliferate; programmers will be tasked with its design, its configuration, and its maintenance. And though I’ve always found the fiddly parts of programming the most calming, and the most essential, I’m not especially good at them. I’ve failed many classic coding interview tests of the kind you find at Big Tech companies. The thing I’m relatively good at is knowing what’s worth building, what users like, how to communicate both technically and humanely. A friend of mine has called this A.I. moment “the revenge of the so-so programmer.” As coding per se begins to matter less, maybe softer skills will shine.

That still leaves open the matter of what to teach my unborn child. I suspect that, as my child comes of age, we will think of “the programmer” the way we now look back on “the computer,” when that phrase referred to a person who did calculations by hand. Programming by typing C++ or Python yourself might eventually seem as ridiculous as issuing instructions in binary onto a punch card. Dijkstra would be appalled, but getting computers to do precisely what you want might become a matter of asking politely.

So maybe the thing to teach isn’t a skill but a spirit. I sometimes think of what I might have been doing had I been born in a different time. The coders of the agrarian days probably futzed with waterwheels and crop varietals; in the Newtonian era, they might have been obsessed with glass, and dyes, and timekeeping. I was reading an oral history of neural networks recently, and it struck me how many of the people interviewed—people born in and around the nineteen-thirties—had played with radios when they were little. Maybe the next cohort will spend their late nights in the guts of the A.I.s their parents once regarded as black boxes. I shouldn’t worry that the era of coding is winding down. Hacking is forever. ♦

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  • 06 November 2023

‘ChatGPT detector’ catches AI-generated papers with unprecedented accuracy

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A machine-learning tool can easily spot when chemistry papers are written using the chatbot ChatGPT, according to a study published on 6 November in Cell Reports Physical Science 1 . The specialized classifier, which outperformed two existing artificial intelligence (AI) detectors, could help academic publishers to identify papers created by AI text generators.

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doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-023-03479-4

Desaire, H., Chua, A. E., Kim, M.-G. & Hua, D. Cell Rep. Phys. Sci. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrp.2023.101672 (2023).

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Desaire, H. et al. Cell Rep. Phys. Sci . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrp.2023.101426 (2023).

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Dogs Across the U.S. Are Falling Sick From a Mystery Illness. Here’s What to Know

A respiratory illness with an unknown cause is sickening dogs in Oregon and other states, prompting warnings from governments and veterinarians about keeping pets safe. 

From August to mid-November, Oregon’s state government received a little more than 200 reports of the illness, which exhibits symptoms of a chronic cough or pneumonia that does not respond to antibiotics. Oregon’s Department of Agriculture told TIME, via email on Saturday, Nov. 18, that it was anecdotally aware of similar cases throughout the country including New Hampshire and surrounding northeastern states, Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, Washington, Idaho and California.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is the illness?

Oregon’s Department of Agriculture began receiving reports of an “atypical canine infectious respiratory disease” circulating in the Portland metro and Willamette Valley areas in August. As of Nov. 16, the department said it’s received more than 200 reports of cases from veterinarians. 

The cause of the illness is still unknown. The department said on Nov. 9 that cases appear to share a viral cause, but common respiratory diagnostic testing has been largely negative. A handful of cases tested positive for Mycoplasma cyno s ( M. cynos ), a bacteria linked to canine respiratory diseases, but it wasn’t believed to be the underlying cause, the department said.

More From TIME

Oregon officials said they’re working with vets and scientists to begin a widespread sampling of cases to diagnose the cause and implement a diagnostic testing plan. 

What are the symptoms you should be looking out for?

The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association said symptoms include a chronic mild to moderate cough that lasts at least six to eight weeks, and chronic pneumonia or acute pneumonia that rapidly becomes severe and often leads to poor outcomes in as little as 24 to 36 hours. Cases are minimally or non-responsive to antibiotics. 

The association said that in general, you should contact a vet if your dog exhibits symptoms including coughing, sneezing, nasal and/or eye discharge, and lethargy. 

How serious is it?

Oregon’s Department of Agriculture told TIME it is receiving "reports of illness and some deaths" although the desk is not actively tracking case outcomes. The department notes that state veterinarian Dr. Ryan Scholz says the "number of deaths have been a very small percentage of total cases."

Kurt Williams, director of the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University, is quoted as telling the Associated Press that “dogs have died,” but said that it’s hard to count how many died from a severe form of the infection without any clear way to define the disease or test for it yet. 

Williams cautioned dog owners to not panic and told them to make sure pets are up-to-date on vaccinations. 

The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association suggested “caution rather than worry” on Nov. 9. Periodic outbreaks of respiratory diseases occur in dogs and cases can be serious, the association said. Cases more commonly occur in animals housed in settings such as shelters, boarding or training facilities rather than in animals housed in private homes, especially those with limited access to other dogs, the association explained. 

What should you do and where can you get help?

Oregon’s Agriculture Department recommend pet owners consult a veterinarian, since the state agency said there is no “one-size-fits-all recommendation” for a potentially broad range of respiratory diseases. 

The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association encourages dog owners to speak to a veterinarian about what vaccines may be appropriate for their dog, including ones that target canine influenza, Bordetella and parainfluenza. 

If dog owners are concerned, vets recommend reducing contact with large numbers of unknown dogs, keeping pets away from others that look sick and avoiding communal water bowls. 

“Just like with other respiratory pathogens, the more contacts your dog has, the greater the risk of encountering a dog that’s infectious,” the vet association said. 

For dogs attending events or situations with a group of other dogs, vets suggested making sure all dogs are up-to-date on vaccines, conducting a health check 12 to 24 hours before the event and having a vet on-site to check dogs’ health issues. If your dog is sick, vets say you should consider having your dog tested with a PCR test to help determine the cause. 

Contact your local vet or follow the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association or American Veterinary Medical Association for updates and tips on how to keep your dog safe.

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The Beatles Are Still Charting the Future of Pop. It Looks Bleak.

Their latest song points toward a future where no golden goose need ever stop laying.

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By Peter C. Baker

Earlier this month, alongside the arrival of a new Beatles single called “Now and Then,” there also came a 12 minute and 24 second promotional film — exactly three times as long as the song itself — explaining the project. Why so long a preface? Part of it was the solemnity of the occasion: This was, the film’s title card proclaimed, “the last Beatles song.” But there was another purpose, too, one that was uncomfortably hard to miss.

“Now and Then” requires not just explanation but also, awkwardly, justification. The song was originally a demo recorded by John Lennon in his New York apartment in the late 1970s, well after the Beatles broke up. In the 1990s, it was among the recordings that Yoko Ono provided to Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr as candidates for being polished up into fully arranged songs. Two of those — “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” — were released in the mid-1990s, as part of the “Anthology” series of TV documentaries, compilation albums and a book. But “Now and Then” was abandoned, in part because of technical difficulties in separating Lennon’s vocals from the murky piano on the same audio track: This was the audio equivalent of a scribbled note to self, not a usable studio recording. Decades later, though, in the course of making the 2021 documentary “Get Back,” the director Peter Jackson’s production company developed a cutting-edge machine-learning application that could be trained to tease apart components of recordings. Suddenly it was possible to isolate individual Beatles’ voices from garbled footage of them in studios and rehearsal halls as they conceived and recorded the album “Let It Be.” Applied to “Now and Then,” this new technology set Lennon’s singing free.

The moment when the promotional video evokes this jailbreak — playing Lennon’s isolated voice over footage that juxtaposes his face with an empty studio — is admittedly chills-inducing. The video is full of similar juxtapositions. We see the astonishingly well-preserved Paul McCartney of 2023, marveling at the gifts of technology; then we see him in the ’90s, goofing around with a still-alive George Harrison; then the bearded family man of the late ’60s, then the fresh-faced Liverpudlian lad suddenly catapulted to stardom. Time collapses: Beatles past and present, “now” and “then,” come together, Lennon’s voice from the ’70s layering with Harrison’s contributions from the ’90s “Anthology” sessions, McCartney and Starr’s more recent efforts, even scraps of wordless harmony singing borrowed from ’60s recording sessions and tracks like “Eleanor Rigby” and “Because.”

It’s so moving that it took me a few rewatches, over a few days, to start asking the obvious questions. Centrally: Does it really make sense to use a song originally written by Lennon alone, with no known intention of ever bringing it to his former bandmates, as the basis for a “Beatles” song? Is Lennon’s vocal, plucked and scrubbed by artificial intelligence and taking on a faintly unnatural air, something he would have embraced or been repulsed by? “Is this something we shouldn’t do?” McCartney asks in a voice-over, but neither he nor anyone else ever articulates exactly what the problem might be. Instead, the film answers unspoken objections by repeatedly swatting them down. McCartney imagines calling his old bandmate up — “Hey, John, would you like us to finish this last song of yours?” — and then supplies Lennon’s answer for him: “I’m telling you, I know the answer would’ve been ‘Yeah!’ He would have loved that!” John “would have loved” the approach, his son Sean concurs — “He was never shy to experiment with recording technology.” In the song’s music video, directed by Peter Jackson, a youthful Lennon is spliced into the “Now and Then” recording sessions: He does, indeed, look thrilled.

“We’ve all played on it,” McCartney says. “So it is a genuine Beatle recording.” On one hand, who is more qualified than McCartney to issue this edict of authenticity? On the other: Why did he feel the need?

To date, much of our conversation about A.I. tools and art has focused on what “new” material a computer program can possibly generate on its own. (Can DALL-E spit out a great painting? Can Midjourney create a genuinely good movie? When, if ever, will ChatGPT write an excellent novel?) But the successful rollout of “Now and Then” — within days, it was topping charts in Britain and nearly there in America — suggests another, and I think more plausible, path for A.I. and the business of culture. This path has less to do with software producing new work and more to do with tech advances facilitating the ongoing monetization of existing intellectual property, “content” that is already identified as profitable.

We are awash in reboots and rehashes and rereleases, sequels and prequels and spinoffs, movies about toys and toys inspired by movies — and, as the recent Hollywood strikes brought to public attention, movie studios are eager for opportunities to assert ownership of writers’ and actors’ creative output as the fodder and training data for cost-cutting A.I. tools. This past summer, YouTube introduced a “Music A.I. Incubator” with Universal Music Group artists including, according to one news release, “the estate of Frank Sinatra.” Peter Jackson has acknowledged the possibility that the Beatles archives could, revisited with fresh tools, generate even more new material. (This is, after all, the man who stretched J.R.R. Tolkien’s slim “The Hobbit” into three full-length movies.) On McCartney’s recent tour, he performed “duets” with Lennon, melding his live show with A.I.-isolated vocals from a concert featured in “Get Back.” A.I. didn’t birth rehash culture, but it seems sure to accelerate it.

So while the current legacy-I.P. production boom is focused on fictional characters, there’s no reason to think it won’t, in the future, take the form of beloved real-life entertainers being endlessly re-presented to us with help from new tools. There has always been money in taking known cash cows — the Beatles prominent among them — and sprucing them up for new media or new sensibilities: new mixes, remasters, deluxe editions. But the story embedded in “Now and Then” isn’t “here’s a new way of hearing an existing Beatles recording” or “here’s something the Beatles made together that we’ve never heard before.” It is Lennon’s ideas from 45 years ago and Harrison’s from 30 and McCartney and Starr’s from the present, all welded together into an officially certified New Track from the Fab Four.

In that context, the “Now and Then” movie’s upfront billing of the track as the last Beatles song feels like a two-pronged rhetorical move. As a promotional matter, it maximizes our sense of the release as an event. But it simultaneously functions as a reassuring promise. Look, it seems to say, we won’t be doing this left and right. We’re too classy for that; we’re the Beatles. This is about the realization of a longstanding and deeply emotional artistic goal, not about cravenly generating a new product.

Well, maybe. But the truth, ultimately, will lie not with any facts inherent to the universe of existing Beatles recordings. It will come down to choices made by whoever owns the rights. If you can make a Beatles single using ideas from two dead Beatles, then you can make one with ideas from three dead Beatles — or even, perhaps, from four. And even if this really is the end for Beatles output, it would be foolish to think that no one will follow in their footsteps. Somewhere, right now, people in suits are drawing up profit projections for similar projects from other beloved acts.

Whether this fact fills you with dread, indifference or excitement might depend on what you think of the music that results. Thus far, many applications of artificial intelligence to music have been meme-y novelties: people mocking up (surprisingly good) impressions of Drake songs or Johnny Cash covering Taylor Swift or Hank Williams singing rap lyrics. The next step — the one the “Now and Then” promotional film is so eager to reassure us “the Beatles” have not yet taken — is the use of A.I. to produce songs we’re meant to respond to not as neat proofs of what’s technically possible, but as vectors for emotion.

I’ve seen numerous people describe how genuinely moved they were by listening to “Now and Then.” I believe them. And the experience of communing with lost friends and collaborators was obviously an especially meaningful one for McCartney. For me, though, the song is eerily inert. Lennon’s original shoddy demo, long available online, is, by contrast, movingly alive, not despite but because of its incompleteness. The recording generates an aura of possibility that fits with the song’s themes: all that might have been, the power of what endures over time, even as so much else erodes. It reminds me of the Beatles without sounding like the Beatles — and why should it, when Lennon didn’t write it for them? The new “Now and Then,” for which some of Lennon’s original lyrics were cut and others rearranged, doesn’t entirely sound like the Beatles either, no matter how much it wants to. The image that formed in my mind as I listened and relistened was that of a spotless, echoey mausoleum, built from shiny gray marble and haunted by garbled digital cries that sound like people I once knew, trying to connect across impossible distances.

My suspicion is that I’ll be having this uncanny feeling more often in the years to come. This will be, in part, because of what A.I. will make possible and how widely it will be deployed as a tool for duplicating human sounds. It will also be a result of our ongoing collective failure to create conditions that make the production and widespread dissemination of novel art possible. What’s worrisome is not the technology itself, which has the potential to be deployed in all sorts of artistically interesting ways. Neither is it a matter of what is or isn’t “natural,” or of policing the boundaries between “real” and “fake” Beatles. The worry is that, for the companies that shape so much of our cultural life, A.I. will function first and foremost as a way to keep pushing out recycled goods rather than investing in innovations and experiments from people who don’t yet have a well-known back catalog to capitalize on. I hope I am wrong. Maybe “Now and Then” is just a blip, a one-off — less a harbinger of things to come than the marking of a limit. But I suspect that, in this late project, the always-innovative Beatles are once again ahead of their time.

Explore Our Coverage of Artificial Intelligence

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