1. FINDING THE STORY: RESEARCHING YOUR IDEA
The best stories come from something you hear, read or see. Every story you publish starts with a question – a question you want answered. If the question piques your interest, chances are others also will want to know more. In answering your question, you bring a newly directed and entertaining perspective to the feature. The exception would be writing an Opinion Editorial, in which case you assume you know the answer, or put the question out there in the hopes of getting the answer.
My article Buffalo Hits the Big Time, came after asking about the poster of a rodeo champ on a restaurant wall. The Man Behind the Ho ho ho was inspired by conversations (several years apart) with two men who had played Santa Claus. Growing In Faith came from my own experience of life, and Revenge of the Orphaned was a follow-up piece requested by the Editor who published my article The Real Motive Is Sadism. The latter was the result of listening to a news item on TV regarding the growing number of home invasions.
Your basic source for ideas then is word of mouth, followed closely by other media stories that trigger a question. Then you let your imagination take over. An ad for razors might trigger an article ‘do women really want to shave?’ A news article on teens coating a school in graffiti, might tease you to query “why this form of expression?” If you want to sell, you must be open to what is happening around you, and constantly listening and looking for the snippet that yells, “story”.