August 12, 2005

The Curse of Tom Wolfe: What Went Wrong for the Magazine Story. I'm trying to break into magazine writing, and as I'm wont to do when I'm trying something new, I'm reading lots about the topic. In the process, I just came across this, and found it interesting (and dismaying).

By the way, I found a recent three-part article about global warming in the New Yorker (1 2 3) to be a damn fine example of magazine writing.

  • Interesting article. I used to be an absolute magazine junkie, but the web has killed my interest in them. The only mag I still read is the New Yorker, and even then I don't read it cover-to-cover every week the way I used to.
  • Good posting, HW. I dunno but i tend to be more optimistic about the state of magazine writing. Good writing will out. I would also disagree with his point that writers have forgotten about "story". Most working writers know that a good story is key, it's just darned difficult to do. It's funny he says the NYT wanted his piece redone in a certain style. That shouldn't be news in any way. Magazine editors have been doing this since forever. I've written for some Canadian magazines and on one occasion, the editor didn't think my style fit his way of doing things. He still wanted the content so he rewrote it. (Also, this is a catty thing to say, but the cited article deserved to be edited. He could have said as much in half the length. Roowwwwrrrr).
  • I'm glad you said that StoreyBored, for sad to relate, I bailed before half-way, just as the author claimed to do when reading magazine fiction.
  • lol. The global warming piece that HW linked is good though. Maybe she should be handing out the magazine awards and the other bloke should be poking holes in the permafrost up North.
  • I suspect that a good deal of exemplary magazine writing is still being done but is becoming increasingly difficult to find in a crowded, specialized and fragmented market. The Economist, for example, despite a permanent list to starboard, still features a lucid and elegant style of exposition. Good luck with your new endeavors, HW.
  • The Economist is one of my favourite reads for current affairs. Talk about an identifiable style though. There's no flowery prose or artistic pretensions there. I guess it's more newsmagazine-y than the more literary magazine writing in the New Yorker and the Atlantic etc. I like the writing in Fortune too. It's breezy but it gets to the point. Anyone read Walrus, the new Canadian magazine?
  • Maybe she should be handing out the magazine awards and the other bloke should be poking holes in the permafrost up North. Hey, I'm a jerk!