By David Hammond
The beginning runner who wants to run a 10-kilometer race will start out going a short distance. Then, work up to a mile. Later, a 5k, and gradually up to a full 10k.
A novice musician who aspires to play in an orchestra will start out with beginner pieces. Then, intermediate works, and so on, until reaching the goal.
For a new writer with an eye on writing magazine feature and cover stories, the best way to start small and work up is to set out writing short articles and gradually work up to longer pieces.
That’s because the difficulty-level of a written work often corresponds to its length.
A short article lends itself to a narrow focus and simple structure, which is more manageable to write.
As a piece becomes longer, it requires more supporting details and a more complex structure, which increases its level of difficulty.
So, a simple strategy to improve your writing skill over time is to start out with shorter writing projects and incrementally work up to longer projects.
Markets for short articles
Starting out writing short articles doesn't mean waiting to propose your work to publications.
Magazines need lots of short articles for the “Front of the Book” (F.O.B.) It’s the beginning pages of a magazine where you see lots of brief tidbits, often 75 to 250 words.
The subjects are usually attention-grabbing pieces about what’s new, what’s hot, and other interesting facts and opportunities.
After success in the Front of the Book, look for opportunities within the publication for 400-to-500-word pieces. Then, on to one-page articles, two-page features, and so on.