Your writing style is your own individual voice, the way in which you communicate thoughts. One writing style might work well for Seventeen, but would crash and burn if presented to Entrepreneur. Your job as a freelance writer is to develop your writing style to target magazine markets effectively. This doesn’t necessarily mean changing your writing voice entirely; it just means that freelance writers must learn how to adapt.
Read Back Issues
The best way to evaluate the writing style of other authors for a magazine market is to read as many back issues as you can get your hands on. Most magazines buy articles from writers who can emulate the tone and voice they are trying to create with the magazine as a whole. Therefore, you can usually get an idea of what they are looking for simply by reading as many articles and stories as possible.
Look for Point of View
Some magazine markets prefer their writers to write only in the first person while others prefer the second or third. Is “I” used more frequently than “you”, or is there a general consensus that the author is speaking to everyone? The first person suggests a writing style that appeals to readers who are looking for personal accounts and opinions, while the second person indicates that the magazine prefers writers to establish a connection with the reader. The third person is more common in magazines about business, finance or academic pursuits.
Consider the Audience
The target audience for a magazine market is by far the most important thing. Who will be reading the magazine? If the publication is geared toward young professional women, the coveted writing style would be one of encouragement and elitism. An audience of teenage boys, however, would indicate a more youthful writing style with references to pop culture and sports. Whatever the case, you should know your audience before attempting to pitch a magazine market.
Keep Your Own Voice
Every writer has his or her own unique writing style that works. Just because your writing style isn’t the same as that of the editor of a magazine market doesn’t mean you can’t sell a story. Your best bet is to find a happy medium between the way in which you write and the way stories in the magazine are written. Look for ways to combine the two so that your article sounds fresh and interesting.
Tone it Down
Many freelance writers make the mistake of trying too hard to develop their writing style, which makes the magazine article sound forced. Instead, write the article as you normally would, then go back and try to inject unique aspects of a particular magazine market into what’s already been written. There is such as thing as going overboard, and you don’t want the magazine editor to think that you don’t have your own writing style.