From Pitch to Publication: Writing Narrative Journalism

with Rudri Patel

magazine writing reported features

Learn all you need to start pitching, landing, and writing reported essays and features.

Is there a compelling story you want to tell about other people? Would you like to highlight an organization or someone who is doing compelling work? Is there a local angle that is a national trend? Do you want to highlight an important subject with experts and others weighing in? Are you personally interested in a subject, but don’t want to divulge details about yourself? Writing a reported essay or feature can give you the permission to pursue compelling stories, explore interesting angles, and craft pieces that include experts and opinions of others, without having to reveal personal details about your backstory.

Through this 8-week class, students will learn the difference between a topic and a story, how to pitch a reported essay or feature, the basics of a strong hook/lede, elements of a nut graph, finding the right sources, interviewing experts, copy editing/fact checking, identifying potential markets for your piece, and putting together the finishing touches of a reported essay or feature.

Learning Objectives for Students

  • To understand the difference between a topic and a story
  • To identify a compelling character for the narrative
  • To learn how to pitch a reported piece/feature
  • To create an inverted pyramid structure for piece
  • To effectively find and interview sources
  • To find potential markets for your piece

Rudri is knowledgeable, articulate, and experienced in all things writing and publishing. Her kindness and expertise make working with her a delight.
—Susan Pohlman

Instructional Materials

The course will be taught by examples of pitches and reported pieces. Weekly meetings will occur via Zoom to discuss the lesson’s elements, weekly writing assignments, and discuss questions/feedback.

Weekly Zoom Meeting Schedule


From Pitch to Publication: Class Outline

Week 1: Is this a topic or a story?

Students will learn to identify the difference between a topic and a story. Essentially, students will identify what kind of a story will make a compelling reported personal essay or feature.

Week 2: How do you pitch a reported personal essay or feature?

Students will learn the elements of the pitch, including greeting, the subject line of the pitch, the body of the pitch paragraph, as well as the effective way to end a pitch email. 

Week 3: How do you hook the reader with your lede?

How do you begin your piece? What is a compelling way to introduce your story? Students will learn how to compose an effective lede.

Week 4: What is the essence of an inverted pyramid?

An inverted pyramid story structure is a way to grab the attention of reader quickly, include important details in the opening paragraph, and then supplement with further pertinent information. 

Week 5: How do you find sources for your piece?

Sources are key for your reported personal essay or feature. Learn how to effectively find sources to support your narrative.

Week 6: What is the best technique for interviewing your source?

You’ve found the source. Now what? How do you prepare for your interviews?

Week 7: Putting it all together

What is the best way to structure your piece? How do you include your experts and other sources? Is this more of a reported personal essay or a stand-alone feature?

Week 8: Polishing for publication

Check for grammatical errors, copy editing, and fact checking. Do everything you can to make the editor’s job easy.

Why Take a Narrative Journalism Course with

  • We welcome writers of all backgrounds and experience levels, and we are here for one reason: to support you on your writing journey.
  • Small groups keep our online writing classes lively and intimate.
  • Work through your weekly written lectures, course materials, and writing assignments at your own pace.
  • Share and discuss your work with classmates in a supportive class environment.
  • Award-winning instructor Rudri Patel will offer you direct, personal feedback and suggestions on every assignment you submit.

Course type:

Student Feedback for Rudri Patel:

I cannot recommend working with Rudri enough, she is one of the best writing teachers that I have ever had. Leena Trivedi-Grenier

Rudri is genuine and compassionate, sharing her stories and helping students find a way to hold their grief, and release some of its anchors. I highly suggest Writing Our Grief, so much so, I’m gifting it to a friend. Don’t hesitate. Take this class! Linda Ragsdale

The course exceeded my expectations. Rudri's practical, supportive, and encouraging style is just what I needed to build confidence and practice in my writing. Rudri is exceptionally perceptive, warm, and generous as a teacher. Rudri helps you believe in yourself as a writer and to build long-term habits after the course. Tom O'Shea

Rudri's teaching style is warm, personal, informed, generous, and comprehensive. She wants her students to have a safe place to dig into their grief and to give written voice to it, to learn the craft of writing about grief with an eye for publication. She challenged us to experiment with new forms, and set the tone for a supportive class partnership. I highly recommend this class. Dianne King

Rudri created a wonderful workshop atmosphere. I received specific feedback on each of my writing assignments and felt supported and encouraged throughout the six-week course. I'm amazed at how much I learned in this short time period. Theresa Connors

Rudri is a real gem. Her management of the class given the difficulty of the material was exceptional. She was always encouraging to all the students. Larry Ricci

Rudri's combination of compassion and solid tangible technique furthered my continuing development as a writer. If you want to take an MFA level class with an instructor who cares enough to guide you kindly but sure-footedly to the edges of your comfort zones---then this class is for you. You will come out on the other side a much improved writer. Christina Cavallaro

Rudri is kind so she reads with her heart as well as her head. As well as providing editorial expertise, she reads with empathy. I found this mattered more than I thought it would. I am so thankful for this course and everything I learned in class and from the community of other writers within the class. Sarah Harley

Rudri is intelligent and perceptive. Her lectures are well organized but not rigid. She is present to the individual students' needs, and her offering of a one-on-one meeting is the cherry on the cake. She is a very generous teacher, and I would and will certainly recommend her courses and take them again myself. Barbara Moroncini

A must take course! Our instructor, Rudri Patel, led the course with such brilliance, commitment and sensitivity. Each lesson was well organized. Ms. Patel went above and beyond with weekly zoom classes, and she added her personal experiences as a writer so freely. Cynthia Slack

Rudri has a way of fostering discussion and motivating her students to produce more and better work. By the end of the first week alone, I’d completely revised my daily writing strategy, reduced procrastination, and felt better equipped to achieve some pretty ambitious writing goals. I’m confident that 2021 will be my best writing year to-date. Jessica Fiorillo

This workshop was everything I wanted and more!  Not only is Rudri an excellent instructor and writer, but she is a wonderful human being. Rudri provided a safe place for everyone to freely express themselves, giving 200% of herself and modeling for students her courage and vulnerability. Cynthia Bassett

Awesome! Rudri is a great teacher. Natalie Ellis

This class, and Rudri’s compassion and ability to create a safe space, helped me work through levels of grief that I didn’t realize I still had. I made connections between past and present losses that I hadn’t made before, which has helped me to grieve at a deeper level. My writing has benefited from the exercises and Rudri’s encouragement to write my truth. This was an excellent class, and I hope to work with Rudri again in the future. Andi Reed

I learned so much in Rudri's class, not just about bullet journaling but about setting goals and establishing habits that nurture and sustain the writing life. Rudri created a welcoming space to discuss not just the ins and outs of bullet journaling, but also how to build habits that nurture creativity and self-care. I highly recommend it for writers and everyone! Daisy Florin

Rudri Bhatt Patel has been a mentor, coach, and editor for my writing projects for almost ten years. Under the skillful guidance of her expertise, candor, and gentle spirit, I have made great gains in refining and expanding my short stories to publication as well as completing a novel. In addition, as co-members of a critique group for several years, Rudri consistently offered in depth and valuable feedback to me and others on a biweekly basis. Her comprehensive written feedback was always delivered with a sensitivity and respect for each person’s creative expression, while authentically providing insight into strengths and areas that needed development. Trish Dolansinski

Rudri is the editor and teacher everyone wishes they would discover. Her warm engaging style meets spot-on feedback has done more for me in 6 weeks than I can begin to describe. Rudri's approach to giving feedback is supportive in a way that both inspires and lifts while being grounded in solid practical suggestions to help elevate your work. Christina Cavallaro

I recommend Rudri Bhatt Patel without reservation. She is knowledgeable, articulate and experienced in all things writing and publishing. Her kindness as well as her professionalism and expertise make working with her a delight. Susan Pohlman

Rudri's knowledge and skills related to professional writing have also helped me with my own writing career many times in the past. Julie Vick

Over the past ten years I have had numerous opportunities to interact with Rudri Batt Patel during writing classes, book critiques, and writer networking sessions. She has a profound ability to engage as a learner, presenter, and facilitator. Her own writing skills are exceptional and her variety of published works enable her to assist developing writers in multiple ways. Phyllis Schwartz

Rudri Patel is an organized and seasoned presenter with years of writing and publishing experience. I’ve been lucky enough to have Rudri in my critique circle for over a decade and I’m a stronger writer because of it. Windy Lynn Harris

Rudri has a wonderful way of bringing out the best in her colleagues without criticism - a skill I appreciate as a veteran of the classroom myself. Jenn Morson

Rudri Patel Instructor


Rudri Patel is a lawyer turned freelance writer, essayist, and editor. On staff at Literary Mama and the co-founder and co-editor of the literary journal, The Sunlight Press, her essays and reported work have appeared in The Washington Post, Business Insider, The Lily, Saveur, Civil Eats, ESPN, Parents and elsewhere. Rudri is currently at work on a memoir on grief and culture and how it provides perspective on life’s ordinary graces.