Books -- Introduction to Magazine Writing by Conrad C. Fink and Donald E. Fink

Article excerpt

Fink, Conrad C. and Donald E. Fink (1994). Introduction to Magazine Writing. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. 390 pp. Paperback.

A recent spate of new publications and second editions has joined the feature writing textbook pool. Introduction to Magazine Writing enters the competition with a slightly different approach from most.

Few would argue that to write successfully for magazines, students should understand the broader magazine industry and its economic and competitive dynamics. The authors of most magazine writing texts seem to ignore that aspect, however.

Part One of this book provides a theoretical foundation of the magazine industry, similar to a chapter on magazines in an introduction to mass communications text. The authors illustrate how advertising and editorial content are tied together. The intent is to encourage students to reflect on the structure of the industry as they write.

The Finks write from an abundance of experience. The combined journalism backgrounds of brothers Conrad Fink and Donald Fink total more than 60 years, which include having served as reporters, editors, and foreign correspondents.

The subject matter is well introduced, and each chapter concludes with a summary. The authors also recommend additional readings at the ends of the chapters. The relatively oversized format of the book allows for generous amounts of white space, particularly in the left margins.

The authors use a conversational, second-person, writing style. They make numerous references to students and suggest ways that students can get started writing immediately, even on campus. Advice is given for those who want to freelance as well as for those interested in a career on a magazine staff. Job hunting strategies are suggested, down to the resume.

Part two, "The Writer's Craft," is devoted to the nuts and bolts of how to write magazine articles. These seven chapters cover such topics as developing strong language fundamentals, leads, and story form and structure. …