Thursday, 11 February 2010

Feature writing fun

I don't often write big juicy multi-page features for magazines. Last night - or this morning at 01h30 to be more precise - I completed and sent off a whopper; the most word count that I've ever been allocated! When you're used to writing on 600-750 word counts, a 2200 word allowance is a comparative novel.

The topic of 'women and trail running' is broad, with multiple themes within this topic so I tackled the whole piece theme by theme. It's a bit like tackling a long race stage by stage. When you've got lots to say, even a roomy allocation can be like the strict discipline of writing short pieces - it really is about making each word count.

Early on, in writing this long article, I thought I'd come in under word count, but as the article grew - coloured by  wonderful contributions from people who sent comments - I neared my limit. I wrapped up on 2201 words, including short theme headings, which are not always included in the final printed version.

What I most enjoyed about writing this article was making contact with trail runners - new and experienced - and reading thoughts on trail running from both people I know and strangers, the latter responding to a general request I sent out.

While I do start out with a concept in mind for articles, I find that the responses I receive to questions around the topic really determine how the article develops. Opinions and comments tell of passions and things that are important to them - a number of people may have these in common, which highlights them. They also speak of things I may not have considered or those I take for granted after years of involvement in trail running.

The difficulty is in wanting to include everything but only having space, even with a big word count, for some. Nonetheless, this article was fun to write and with each paragraph my excitement grew. I hope the magazine likes it!

This posting is also a thank you to the women (and a guy) who responded to my request for contributions on the topic of women and trail running; and also to the many people who have responded to my requests for comments over the years. Your thoughts really help to shape what I write.

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