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How To Write An Article Outline

By Author: Adam Lewis
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If you're thinking of writing an article for a magazine, you'll usually need to send a query letter and outline to the editor first. If he decides that he wants the article, he'll let you know so you can crack on and write it. But, do you really know what you should put in an outline?
What you should put in your outline
Writing a good outline is essential as it tells the editor what will be included in the article and what the structure of the finished article will be. In essence, it's a skeleton of the finished article, showing the main topic areas to be covered, in order, and details of any interviews or quotes you plan to include. But that's not all it can be used for. It is also for you, the writer to use. Imagine being a full-time writer, with numerous articles ideas out for consideration by a number of different publications at the same time. It might be several months before you hear back from editors and when you do, you'll want to get on with writing the article as quickly as possible. This is where your outline becomes invaluable. It'll remind you of what you need to put in the article and in what order too.
So, now you understand the important and usefulness of article outlines for both you and the editor, have a read through the two examples below:
Example 1:
DANGERS OF AM-DRAM!
OUTLINE
INTRO
60 amateur dramatics participants injure themselves on the stage in the North West every year. Part of a wider issue - include details of national figures of injuries.
MAIN BODY
Quotes from leader of local am-dram society, Claire Nolan, on frequency and severity of injuries and how they usually happen.
Several of the more humourous stories from local am-dram participants.
Details of some of the more serious, life-changing accidents short interview with Adam Parker, local am-dram participant, who almost lost an eye in a fight scene using swords. Concentrates on how an accident while participating in a seemingly safe hobby has changed his life.
ENDS
Interview arranged with Mary Green from ROSPA on how to prevent accidents.
Example 2:
HELP! MY CAT IS CONSTIPATED
OUTLINE
INTRO
Constipation is common in cats. Do you know if your cat is constipated? What should you do if he is?
MAIN BODY
Figures for constipation in cats, locally and nationally.
How to diagnose constipation in cats.
Practical advice for administering home remedies as well as advise on over-the-counter remedies and what the vet is likely to prescribed.
Interview with local vet Mandy Spelman detailing how often she sees cats suffering with constipation, the main causes and what the procedure is when medication fails i.e. enemas, surgery, mega colon issues.
ENDS
Advice from vet Mandy Spelman on how to prevent constipation.
See, it's not that hard, is it? The above outline gives the editor a clear idea of what is included in the article, in what order it'll appear and which experts are expected to contribute.
See How to Approach Editors With Your Articles for more help.

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