1. Tell a great story—a unique story. Write from the heart. Touch the readers’ emotions. Make them laugh. Make them cry. Let them feel.
  2. Usually written in first person. If you are telling someone else’s story, it will be written in third person or ghost written in first person with the narrator’s name as the byline or “as told to” article.
  3. It must be a true story. You may be asked to sign a contract stating that the story is true and editors may call to verify facts, dates, etc. about your story.
  4. Start with a problem. Write an upbeat story, but show how you overcame something and worked toward a resolution.
  5. Focus on one specific incident or happening. Don’t try to cram 20 years or a dozen people into one article. Have as few characters as possible so the reader doesn’t get confused and keep your focus on one main point.
  6. Write with conversational, anecdotal style. Pretend you are sitting at your kitchen table with a friend and a cup of coffee. How would you tell this story? Write it the same way. Use dialogue. All narrative makes for a boring piece.
  7. Most stories need an agent of change. Somewhere in the story the negative turns to positive. Something or someone changed your thinking or what you were doing. Show the reader what changed you. Don’t tell him! Make it a smooth transition. No preaching or saying, “This is what changed me.”
  8. Take away message. This is not a “tack on” at the end saying, “This is what I learned.” Your whole story should lead up to this. What spiritual point did you learn? What personal growth? How is the reader going to apply this to his/her unique situation? Your take away message should be subtle enough that the reader doesn’t know you planned it, but strong enough that he/she can’t miss it.
  9. Edit and polish your manuscript. Don’t expect the editor to clean up your story. Go through your checklist. Write and rewrite. Make it shine. Do your best!
  10. Know Your Market. Slant your story toward your target audience. Study the magazine and guidelines. Stay within the word count and submit your article according to guidelines—e-mail or regular mail. Send it to the proper editor.
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