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Pitches That Worked: Men's Journal

We map a freelance pitch from a news-based nugget of an idea to a 6,000-word survival epic

By Blake Gernstetter - July 12, 2010
When a small local news item captivated writer Justin Heckert, he knew there was a bigger story to be told. "I read a small, buried article on CNN.com about this extraordinary event in which a dad and his autistic son were swept out to sea," says Heckert. "They survived, treading water, after they'd been separated during the night. It seemed perfect for an ambitious narrative story." Heckert pitched the idea to a few outlets, including Esquire and The New Yorker, but it never got off the ground. A few months later, he got a serendipitous email from Terrance Noland, executive editor at Men's Journal, whom he had met earlier at an industry event, asking if Heckert had any story ideas. "I never geared the pitch any differently for any publication I sent it to," says Heckert. "I was certain, initially, that it was just a story about a father and son." Here, Heckert and Noland explain how his story idea surfaced as a 6,000 word feature, Lost in the Waves, in the November 2009 issue of Men's Journal....

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