Paula Morrow: Energize Your Articles With Interviews

Thanks to Paula Morrow for this blog post. Paula is co-faculty with Jan Fields for our Writing for the Educational Market workshop.

One of your best sources when writing articles for the educational market can be interviews with real people. There’s an art to doing a good interview, and it can be broken down into seven basic components.

  1. Always make arrangements in advance. Don’t expect a spontaneous interview the way news reporters do for breaking news.
  2. Do your homework before the interview. Have a basic working knowledge of your subject and his/her expertise.
  3. Know what you want to know. Prepare questions. Prioritize them so that if you run out of time, you’ll have asked the most important ones first.
  4. Whether telephone or in-person interview, be on time. If in person, dress appropriately.
  5. Have an agenda, but be open to tangents. Listen carefully for a golden moment when your subject says something unexpected and takes the interview in a new but exciting direction.
  6. Know the five types of listening: appreciative (for enjoyment), discriminating (to clarify meaning), comprehensive (to identify facts and internally summarize the message), therapeutic (to be a sounding board), and critical (to evaluate, then accept or reject the message). Each type may be appropriate at different times, depending on the interview situation. Know when to use each one.
  7. Tie it all up: Allow your subject to bring up anything he or she feels you should have included. Ask permission to contact the person later if you need to clarify anything while writing your article.
  8. Becoming a first-class interviewer can lead to steady success in writing and selling articles and books.

    Posted on: May 2, 2019

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