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HOW TO WRITE AN INTERVIEWLast week, we talked about how to conduct an interview—what to do beforehand, how to act during the interview, and what to do afterward and how to follow-up with your subject. This week we go one step further —how to write the article.Plus, we touch on how to pick the perfect subject for your article.
Karen, many, if not most, creative endeavors have formats and guidelines.
Screenplays have a specified format for scripts, and within that, specified lengths for various genres. TV sitcoms are 22 minutes. Picture books are (usually) 32 pages. Graphic novels have a specified setup, etc., etc.
(Personally, I like boundaries … I've found creatives work best within them, otherwise we can go off the rails!)
We here at IFW set guidelines for a few reasons. One is the desire to teach our writers how to submit to editors and agents. Another is because of our experiences receiving submissions that cost the writer time, energy, hope, and money and gives them no chance at succeeding. We'd like to avoid that. We want our writers to be successful. Many of our guidelines are to help folks succeed, not make them jump through hoops.
That said, if a submission is followed generally, but not “to the letter,” we don’t get too caught up in the weeds. But if we were a traditional publishing house, that probably would not be okay. There are so many submissions, there must be SOME kind of filter and those who submit following the professional rules get through that filter.
Lastly, having a standardized format (for example, Times New Roman, 12pt, 1” borders, etc.) makes it easier on the person reading the hundreds of submissions that come in to an editor or contest judge. They can get to the “meat” (essence?) of your story with ease because they aren’t distracted by different fonts and wonky spacing. So using a standardized format actually benefits YOU, the writer.
I have a general question. Why does an author practically have to jump through hoops to submit anything to either a magazine or book editor? That includes even IFW's personal essay contest which (I think) I just submitted to. I realize editors are busy people and need to set guidelines for submissions, but to me they are overly complicated and publications probably miss many good submissions because the guidelines are not followed to the letter.
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