1. Never Be Boring
Here is a line from a tabloid:
"Cats may have nine lives -- but dogs go to heaven! Just ask Stephen Huneck who spent $200,000 building a church for dogs."
The reader immediately wonders how a dog would need a church, and for $200,000, no less.
2. Find the "Hey Martha" quality
When you read an opening like the one about the dog church, it makes you turn to your wife and say "Hey Martha, get a load of this." That's the quality you want for you opening.
3. Use your Best Shot
"Kirk Douglas put a pistol in his mouth determined to kill himself and only an accident of fate prevented him from pulling the trigger."
The questions swirl in the readers head after reading this line.
4. Make a long story short
Fill your paragraphs with lots of details
"The Queen, seventy five, has been on the throne for fifty years, and married to a grumpy husband for fifty four, Even palace insiders admit she shows more affection to her beloved pet corgis than to her dysfunctional family. Personal fortune of $2 billion has not bought her happiness."
5. Make Effective Transitions
Write tightly and make effective transitions. When referring to the heroes of 9/11 who rerouted the plane intended for the White House, into a Pennsylvania field, the Star used the transition:
"Glick and the other heroes stormed from their seats into history."
6. Pace yourself
While your sentences should vary, some long, some short, for the most part your paragraphs should be short.
7. Keep it Simple
Write to express first and to impress second. Your writing should be easily understood.
8. Use Active Verbs
ex. "6.0 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Chile" is more effective than "Chile Struck by 6.0 Magnitude Earthquake".
9. Have Fun with Puns
Harrison Ford dated a much younger woman and the headline read: "Raider of the Lost Cradle", referring to his movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark".
10. Come Full Circle
Return to the lead in your conclusion. When I wrote a Maranatha News article about the black settlement of Africville on the fringes of Halifax, I introduced it with the following statement:
“Where the asphalt ended and the dirt road began, that is where Africville started”, recounted Gus Wedderburn, after investigating the black community of Africville at
I finish the article by tying the ending to the beginning:
"While Halifax is no longer devoid of coloured people, Africville is."
For more information, read Writer's Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing (Michelle Ruberg).