How Freelance Writers Find Stories to Write About
These tips on how to find a story angle to write about are for writers who are stuck for article ideas. Finding angles is about teaching your brain to generate ideas.
“Once your brain has opened up to this kind of idea generating, you’ll be amazed by how much more perceptive you’ll become in general,” Glatzer writes in Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer: How to Win Top Writing Assignments. “Conversations you overhear will trigger ideas for new articles. An event you witness in a parking lot will trigger another. Moments before drifting off to sleep, you’ll think of your most compelling idea ever.”
Training your brain to find story angles for your articles, short stories, novels, and even your query letters is simply a matter of examining your ideas from different perspectives.
How to Find a Story Angle to Write About
Successful freelancer Jenna Glatzer says spotting article ideas that magazine editors will pay to publish is simply a muscle you can develop…
Ask your experts for article ideas
Steve Martin, co-author of Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, e-mailed me some great information for an article I’d already submitted to Health magazine. Since his information was too late for the feature article I was writing, I pitched a new idea for another article to the same magazine. If you’re looking for feature article ideas, stay connected to your experts and interviewees.
Dig around in your life
Jenna Glatzer encourages freelance writers to find feature article ideas in their own lives. In Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer, she writes, “If you’re coming up short [of Big Ideas], fill in these blanks and find out the many ways you’re already an expert.”
Jot down the answers to Glatzer’s topics below, and you’ll start learning how to get ideas for magazine articles fairly quickly:
- I’ve worked as a:
- I’ve visited/lived in:
- My hobbies are:
- Every school I’ve ever attended:
- I know how to:
- My pets:
- My friends are interesting because:
- My religion/spiritual practices:
- I’ve taken lessons in:
Take your last magazine article idea one step further
One way freelance writers win new assignments is by poking around one idea until it bleeds fresh juice. To do this, brainstorm the following story angles about a topic we all want to know more about…
- One particular story angle (eg, how to become a freelance writer)
- A more specific idea (eg, how to become a freelance writer when you live on an island )
- Variations on one specific idea (eg, transitioning from freelance writer to the editor of The Writer magazine)
- A ridiculous angle (eg, writing tips for Schnauzers who want to support their masters who want to be freelance writers)
- A funny story angle (eg, how to become a freelance writer when you live in an aquarium)
- A serious angle (eg, freelance writing about the lost girls of Nigeria)
- A men’s or a women’s angle (eg, how to become a freelance writer for stay-at-home moms)
- A teen’s or children’s story angle (how to become a freelance writer for tweens)
- An angle you’ve seen, but can creatively twist (eg, how to become a freelance writer when you’re a tween on an island)
Coming up with creative, interesting story angles to write about can be the hardest part of being a freelance writer — and the most rewarding.
If your dream is to earn a living as a freelance magazine writer, read 5 Ways to Become a Freelance Writer Who Gets Repeat Work.
Fellow scribes, how do you get feature article ideas? I welcome your comments below…
May you find the perfect feature article to write about, and an angle that will titillate both you and your magazine editor.