Story ideas that are topical and attract a wide readership are at the heart of writing. The trick to coming up with interesting in-demand story ideas is making the search a habitual exercise. Train yourself to look at every circumstance or event as a potential story. You will discover that ideas from one area will merge with others, which will help you establish well-rounded impressions and comprehensive content.
A few great places where you can begin your search include watching world events on television, learning about different cultures, listening to radio shows, your personal experiences, and surfing the Internet. When searching for story ideas bear in mind that when people read fiction they want a story that will not only entertain them but also serve as a vehicle to temporarily escape their reality. When people read non-fiction (and that includes your life story) they want to broaden their basic knowledge of the topic and in so doing find solutions to their problems and frustrations. In this instance, it is important to provide the reader with alternative options, not just the attempts that worked, but also the ones that did not work, and a discussion of why they failed. While your book may be a biography from your perspective, it is viewed as a practical how-to manual for the reader.
1) Television Talk Shows cover the most important daily, national and international news. You can localize any topic a show covers since most of their topic choices are meant to cater to society as a whole.
2) Your Personal Experiences – Every writer knows that it is easier to write what he or she knows as opposed to researching and writing about an unknown topic. Most magazines feature a section dedicated to personal essays and most newspapers have an opinion page. It’s normal to assume that writing your life story is a waste of time, that readers will be bored to tears.While your life is probably a collection of ‘not much happened today’ entries in your diary, I’m sure that over the years you’ve accomplished a great deal. Even the most exciting and celebrated among us have the same hum drum lives that just about everybody else has. The difference is that they have pockets in their life that are unbelievably exciting and when you read about these individuals these exciting bits are the only ones worth reading about. And so it is with your life story. Perhaps you’ve survived cancer, maybe you overcame a debilitating eating disorder, maybe you renovated an entire home on a shoestring budget, maybe you changed your lifestyle and overcame depression. Or perhaps you initiated a 5-year plan to develop skills to land your ideal job or launch a business, maybe you overcame an addiction. If you honestly believe that you haven’t yet achieved anything worth writing about then pick the thing you’d like to accomplish and start writing the book that profiles how you are accomplishing it right now. For example, if your background is one of abject poverty the focus of your writing should not be how poor you were or are unless your circumstances have a direct impact on either your current situation or provides a practical solution for other people in similar circumstances to overcome the plight of poverty. Perhaps your family could not afford to buy vegetables from the supermarket and instead grew a variety of vegetables in the backyard; or instead of buying commercially-baked pies and bread the family baked their own bread in a homemade mud oven, and that is how today the family successfully operates a Spaza Store from their home selling organically-grown vegetables and homemade bread and pies. You may find that there are several stories that dovetail from achievements in your life, or aspirations yet to be accomplished.
3) Conversations with Friends are generally a good source of information and diverse opinion. Take a long hard look at what’s going on in their lives, their likes and dislikes, their frustrations and accomplishments. It’s a safe bet that something that affects them probably also influences the lives of other people. Fostering relationships is very important as a freelance writer.
4) Internet – The Internet is a goldmine of ideas to find a topic you want to write about. Run a search on trends to identify story ideas; browse the Web for topic-focused information to start writing.
5) Newspaper/Magazine Blogs – Most major publications have blogs where users post opinions and suggestions, which will provide you with loads of ideas and because users (readers) often post suggestions that editors take seriously. If you pitch an idea that the editor thinks needs to be covered and that readers have suggested, then selling your story will be that much easier.
6) Other Cultures – Topics about cultural diversity range from customs to immigration, and you don’t have to be an expert to write about them.
7) Eavesdrop – If by chance you hear someone talking about something interesting, don’t be afraid to ask them about it.
Target a specific audience
- A powerful message is only powerful when directed at the right target audience.
- Create a profile of your target audience: age, sex, profession, disposable income and lifestyle interests.
- Identify a message that will reach your audience in the most effective way.
- Your tone of voice should be clear, confident and credible so that your audience will respond in a positive manner.
- Back up your statements – don’t promise something you can’t deliver.
- Your tone should be warm and inviting.
- Client-specific copy is key in successful copy writing.
- Your tone must involve the reader.
- It is essential to make it very clear to the reader what the next steps are (a call to action) e.g. “Contact us for a free evaluation” or “Buy today and get a 10% discount on future purchases”.
- The successful combination of good design and effective copy writing results in a strong media message.
- Make sure that the design supports and complements the copy.