online course

After attending several online trainings with Magazine Training International over five years, I wondered if I could learn anything new by signing up for an online course on writing powerful stories. But, my gut feeling told me to register. Maybe I would learn something new that would enhance my writing skills. I made the commitment to the course, and, for a period of four weeks, I learned quite a number of things.

First, I reviewed how to research the people and subjects I will write about. This requires skills such as: Internet searches, social media searches, and interview techniques. I discovered how to use Internet options like tools, anytime, all result, video, books, and news, and that Wikipedia is useful for background information but facts need to be verified in other places.

Second, we concentrated on writing focus statements. A powerful story should have a focus statement, which tells a reader what the story is really about.  It should be clear and specific. When writing a focus statement, I can choose to write it as foreshadow, question, or comparison.

Third, the instructor emphasized the importance of self-editing. Self-editing helps a writer improve the quality of the article. An assignment sheet can be used as a guide to evaluate my draft assignment. The sheet asks critical questions such as:

  • Does the story have a clearly stated focus sentence?
  • Is it organized so your reader can read it and clearly understand your meaning?
  • Did you start with action?
  • Did you use strong verbs?
  • Are people the subjects of your sentences? (People do more interesting things than ideas, and your reader can more easily understand your ideas when they see people acting them out.)

Another tip I learned was the importance of writing an outline. Part of the outline can include a paragraph-by-paragraph word count, which is figured out by dividing the assigned word count by the average number of words I write per paragraph. I should reread my notes, write my focus statement, number my paragraphs, make a list of what to put in each paragraph–namely the lead, focus, background, conflict, and conclusion. It’s a challenge to follow to-the-letter the stated guidelines.

The course surpassed my expectations! The investment and time spent on the assignments was worth it. I am so happy I received a certificate of completion from Magazine Training International. God bless the instructor, Anne Marie Winz, and the staff and leadership of MTI for the good work of equipping writers like me in Africa and other parts of the world. I look forward to taking more courses in the near future.

by David Munyere, Kenya

For more tips on writing for magazines, check out these free resources.

Photo by Oscar Omondi on Unsplash

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Magazine Training International’s mission is to encourage, strengthen, and provide training and resources to Christian magazine publishers as they seek to build the church and reach their societies for Christ.