Syllabus – Magazine Writing

ENC 3310. , TR 3:00-4:15

Required Texts: Handbook of Magazine Article Writing           Ed. Michelle Ruberg

Pre-Requisites: ENC 1101 and 1102

Course Objectives:

  • To demonstrate proficiency and versatility in magazine writing skills: gathering and researching material, focusing an idea, developing a rhetorical stance
  • Learn a range of available choices to produce effective writing for specific audiences;
  • Develop critical reading and thinking skills; and
  • Gain confidence and control as a writer.




  • Ÿ  10 % Magazine Analysis
  • Ÿ  10 % Short article
  • Ÿ  25 % Profile #1
  • Ÿ  25 % Profile #2
  • Ÿ  10 % Group Project & Participation
  • Ÿ  20 % Writer’s Journal & Workshop Participation




Plagiarism is the theft of ideas and words. Plagiarism in this course (or any other course) will not be tolerated, and will result in failure and a review by the Office of Student Conduct.

New Work

This course will only consider new work. This is not a place to re-submit work that you wrote in a previous course, nor is it the place to force work that you’ve been assigned from other ventures (the campus newspaper, for instance). While I hope that you all achieve success outside of this class, assignments in this course must be originally written for this course.

Collaborative Learning


This course will require you to participate in class discussions and workshops, to interact with other students, and to form groups and complete assignments with others. It is an expectation of this course that you will learn from other students, that other students will learn from you, and that you might even learn new things about your own writing. You will not get the most of this course if you do not approach our discussions with the following qualities: (1) Be curious. (2) Be teach-able. No matter your personal style or interests, always ask how a reading/assignment can help you grow or how it can help you sharpen your talents; always display a willingness to learn, rather than a resistance to material you find difficult.




Because this class centers around participation and collaboration, your grade is heavily dependent on attendance. I expect each student to treat this class like a job: miss a day at the job, and you’re fired. Here, you are allowed five (5) class absences; after this, you will earn a grade of “F.” This might sound like a lot of absences, but consider: there is no such thing as an “excused” absence. I treat all absences equally, whether you have a family emergency or you want to catch up on sleep. Use your absences wisely. In addition, tardiness is treated as a half-absence (it is almost worse than an absence, actually, because it distracts the entire classroom). If you cannot make it to this class on time, you might want to search around for a different time. Also important: workshop and reading discussion grades are based partly on attendance, so absences can weaken your scores in these areas.


Missed Assignments:


Though I allow a certain number of absences without penalty, I do not allow you to make up in-class activities, and I do not allow late assignments. I expect that assignments are turned in on the due date, and during class. If you are absent or tardy when an assignment is due (or when a quiz or exam or in-class writing is given), you will receive a zero (0) for the assignment. No make-ups or “late grades,” especially for writing workshops. If you know ahead of time that you will have to miss a class, make sure that the assignment is either delivered to me during class, or delivered to my office beforehand.


UCF Disability Statement:


(From Student Disability Services): UCF is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for all persons with disabilities.  This syllabus is available in alternate formats upon request. If you have a disability and need accommodations in this course, you must contact me during my office hours within the first week of the semester to discuss necessary accommodations. You must be registered with Student Disability Services, Student Resource Center Room 132 (phone: 407-823-2371; TDD only phone 407-823-2116) before requesting accommodations from me.




Out-of-class assignments must be typed, double-spaced on 8 ½ x 11 white paper. Refer to the in-class example for proper formatting of contact info. Each page must be paginated in the lower right with your last name and page number, and you must staple the paper in the left corner. No double-sided copies. In the professional world, improperly formatted work is thrown away, unread. So, in this course, if you turn in a manuscript that does not follow manuscript format exactly, your grade will be lowered by a full letter.


Conferences, Email, Office Hours:

I am available during my office hours. I am also available via email, but I do not check my email over the weekend, or at insane late-night hours. Please do not abuse the privilege of email: I will not email out lecture notes, discuss what you might have missed in class, address lengthy concerns (email is too impersonal for extended conversations), or accept assignments via email. If you fail to sign an email, or if your grammar is atrocious, don’t expect a reply.


Cell Phones/ Laptops:

Disruptions make professors angry, and other students annoyed. Turn your ringers off, and don’t spend the class period texting; trust me, I can see it, and no, research suggests that you cannot multitask nearly as well as you think you can. If you are on your phone, you are not engaged in the course, and you are showing me that you do not care about the course. Concerning laptops: my experience has shown that most students use laptops for facebook, and/or web browsing while in class. See me personally if you need to use a laptop.


Hate Speech:

Hate Speech (slurs or derogatory remarks geared at any ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation) will not be tolerated, either during in-class discussion or in any assignment. Use of Hate Speech will be cause for immediate failure on an assignment, or dismissal from class.

Apple Policy:


I’m a sucker for bright red apples and Diet Coke. They brighten my day.


Course Projects:

Analysis (4-5 Pages): Due Tuesday, February 4

If you want to get published, you’ve got to know the publication. The analysis essay will require you to combine traditional means of understanding a publication and its submission process (the web site submission guidelines, The Writer’s Market), along with a full analysis of the magazine’s Table of Contents, letter from the editor, recurring column, and especially, one feature article for the magazine. Your essay must describe your understanding of the magazine’s purpose, audience, and writing style by incorporating elements of all of these things. Include detailed, quoted examples, and cite locations in the article where the writer makes noteworthy stylistic choices.


Short (1-3 Pages): Due Tuesday, February 25

A “short” is a relatively quick piece of writing, never the center of attention for an entire magazine, but could be your quickest way to seek publication. Despite its length, though, a “short” is not an easy task. In a very small space, you’ve got to create an engaging, focused, and developed piece. Ideas must be compressed; every word counts. The purpose of this assignment is to introduce you to many of the different types of magazine writing available to you, but also to help you get acquainted with the subject and/or publication with which you will be working throughout the semester. A short could take any of the following forms: objective informational piece, opinion column, personal essay, how-to process, update, or review (among others).

Profile #1 (5-10 Pages): Due Tuesday, March 29

Writing about people is a mainstay of most publications. The profile requires the interviewing skills basic to all genres of magazine writing. The person you select should be someone whose personal or professional experience will contribute credibility to your feature article. Most importantly, however, the person you profile must be intrinsically interesting to the target audience. Choose wisely and choose well—someone who is easily accessible.

Profile #2 (5-10 Pages): Due Monday, April 25

Feature articles take on different forms depending upon the publication. No matter the subject, however, every feature article should engage the reader from the very first word, and throughout, should immerse readers in detail and dimension and history, allowing them to interact intellectually and emotionally with a subject that cannot help but feel real. By the end of the feature article, your readers should feel as if they have uncovered something completely new about the subject and about the world. Your first Profile project should focus upon a person; this second profile project, however, should focus upon a place, an institution, a company, a team, an event, etc. You must design the article to meet the criteria specified by the target publication.


Group Reading Discussion (no word count): Due Dates Vary

If you want to be the best, you’ve got to read the best. This project (which includes no essay, only a written outline of your presentation) will allow you to form groups and analyze one of the selected online articles below, many of which come from The Best American Magazine Writing anthology, and then lead the class in dissecting and discussing what makes this piece of writing so successful. There will be a total of ten Reading Discussions, and you are responsible for printing and reading the material for each of them. Your individual grade will also be determined by several 1-2-page “reading response” essays which you must write throughout the semester.


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