How to Write a Lifestyle Piece for the New York Times

How to Write a Lifestyle Piece for the New York Times


1. The lede is king

Open with power and conviction. A hearty and heavily slanted statement from a person with the same name as a superhero’s alter ego is ideal.

2. Focus, focus, focus

Tightly contain your research area. Extending the borders beyond a three-mile radius of a specific location could possibly introduce diverse voices.

3. Cut the fat

Ensure the demographics of your sources are as concentrated as possible. Choose an age, then add two years on either side: this is your demographic. Do allow for possible outliers whose professions or hobbies fit comfortably enough into your subject niche—especially if said professions or hobbies include neologisms for things such as breakdancing, graffiti art, or cycling culture.

4. Gain your subjects’ trust

The best subject is the uninhibited one. Ask your sources questions and observe their behavior when they’re drunk.

4. Above all, be objective

You’re the messenger. The people—well the ones you’re interested in listening to—speak, and you report.

5. Just go for it, man

If your editor gave you an unrealistic—I mean truly impossible—deadline or if you are really grasping for a story, just go all in. All in, man. Push that envelope. I mean push it all the way from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. No holds barred (pun totally intended). You can always retroactively call it satire.

– Summer Grimes

Photo by Marcus Metropolis (Creative Commons)