Tag Archives: writing tips freelance writing communication storytelling

News Versus Articles – What’s the difference?

The first difference between a news story and an article is simple — a news story MUST be balanced.  All angles and parties have to be represented.  That means doing your homework, getting the background and contacting  interested parties.  It is more work but only telling one side of a story ensures prejudicing the content and perhaps, the reader, to one interest group’s point of view.

Another difference is this is one place where what the author thinks about any element in the story is just not relevant, at all.  The story should be told by the people involved with the writer only providing bridges where necessary.  For example, here is an excerpt from a story on an internal dispute within a union.  I have removed the names and titles of the people quoted because this story has not been published yet but notice how the quotes are used.

“The leadership sees fit to railroad this through the membership by limiting information, restricting the vote by having it a “must be present” vote… in the most remote location in the state, in the middle of the week in the middle of the day. What a sham.  There are 20,000 of us shift working … and they really expects us ‘to be present’ to vote at the most important vote in the history of our union? I don’t think so.”

“That is a totally inaccurate statement and it’s unreasonable,” says XXXX, President of the Board of Directors of the union.  “We have been talking about this for quite some time.”

Do all your interviews.  Transcribe your notes.  Let the interviewees tell the story and follow this old journalism rule — include who, what, when, where and why.  It’s a simple rule but a good one.  The trick is to pack as much of that information into the beginning of the story as possible then flesh these elements out and let the people you interview tell their story in their words.

If you have done your job well, neither side will be able to claim victory.


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What Makes A Writer Run

I was standing in a store yesterday waiting while someone tried to figure out how to mail the manuscript for my first novel to a publisher in Canada when, suddenly, right there, my next novel started to write itself.

Granted, I have had the idea and the high level outline for this one in my head for about 9 months but my character was strangely quiet. Then, while watching the various characters come in and out of this store, each with his or her own story, each wearing their hopes and dreams on their faces, Trish started to speak and I was ready for her.

One thing a writer is NEVER without is pen and paper so I whipped out my pad and wrote the words as fast as I could, barely keeping up with her/me. If you want to write, carry the gear. Guess why?

Because the way it comes into your head the first time you hear it is almost always the best way to write it! Even 15 minutes later, chances are you just won’t be able to capture the thought, the words, the scene the same way. And believe me, there is nothing worse than trying to remember the moment of inspiration.

So be prepared, listen and when the talking starts….start writing!

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Writing and Positioning and Marketing, Oh My!

I am working on a piece for a holistic health and wellness facility and find that this is more difficult than writing about the recent face transplant surgery or telling the story about living legend, nurse Gail Russell.  Sure, this is a story like all the rest but there are some twists and turns here that add to the complexity.

How do you position a group of healthcare professionals who are trained in Western medicine but steeped in Eastern healing practices?  Sounds like the best of both world but one challenge is making the services they offer make sense to the target market they are trying to reach — educated, affluent men and women who are looking for ways to get healthy and skeptical of anything smacking of “new age.”

As with most of my assignments, I am starting with research – demographic and psychographic.  Who are these people?  What healthcare challenges are they facing?  How do they view Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM)?  What message will resonate with them and move them to use this group of highly-trained professionals?

Early research on Google Ad Words shows there is a real need for these services in the Pennsylvania – Delaware – Maryland area.  Now it is just a case of digging and figuring out what to say to whom about everything from stress and anxiety management to cranial sacral manipulation, to energy healing and self-hypnosis.

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Writing Resolutions

We all make them but writers tend to make New Year’s resolutions that actually sound like they can come true!

Part of the reason our resolutions sound plausible is our facility with words.  Part of it is that anyone who writes for a living often thinks about the future and how they will manage as the economy shrinks and traditional publications fall to online magazines and, you guessed it, blogs.

So, what resolutions am I making?  The first one is to share as much of what I have learned in this freelance writing business with anyone who is trying to get started in it.  Why would I do that?  Why would I give away what it has taken me more than 18 years to learn?

Because I wish that someone had shared their knowledge, their insights with me.  It would have made the first 17 years just a little bit easier.  So, without further ado, here are some of my thoughts about and tips on freelance writing.

Freelance writing is tough at the very beginning because everyone wants to see samples of your writing and prefers writers that are published…which makes it harder to get published.  That said, there are a couple of places you can look for freelance jobs. 

 

Of course, one of the first places I check is www.craigslist.org .  I look in both Philadelphia and Delaware.  Click on the Writing/Editing link almost at the bottom of your screen – just right of center.  I have found a couple of freelance jobs through this listing.  One caveat – for every writing job I got through Craigs List, I probably submitted 100 queries.

 

I also subscribe to one free newsletter which has job listings but, more importantly, has tips, ideas and stories about writing and how to get started and keep going.  It is called Writer’s Weekly by Angela Hoy.  You can subscribe by going to http://www.writersweekly.com.

  

You also may want to look into Writer’s Market.  It is published every year and half of it covers book publishers, editors and agents and the other half covers magazines.  You can look at it at Barnes & Noble or maybe your local library would have a copy.  The good thing about Writer’s Market is that it includes all the information about the magazine including the editor’s name and contact information, the percent of the magazine which is written by freelancers and story ideas the magazine is seeking.

 

Oddly enough, I got the writing job with Equine Journal by answering an ad in their magazine.  So another tip would be to read through magazines and see who is looking for freelancers.  The down side is that some magazines only pay a very small amount — $60 per 600 word article – just 10 cents a word.  But I love horses and love writing so it works for me.  I also write for Advance Magazine for Nursing and The Art Times Journal. 

 

And I write for businesses but that is harder to get into and stay into.  To get jobs with businesses, you really, really have to network.  More on that later.

 

Those are a few of the ways I just stay tapped in.    I hope they help you meet some of your New Year’s resolutions

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Filed under Copywriting, Freelance Writing, Writing Articles, Writing Resources

Writing As Storytelling

Communication is communication.  Sometimes writers forget that.

Whether you are writing for magazines, for blogs or for businesses, the finished product should be easy and enjoyable to read and move people to buy, sell, call, contact or contribute!

Brochure, newsletter article,  sales slick or business plan — when someone puts the piece down, he or she should know what the point was and what to do next.  If they don’t, what you have written has failed.   

Best advice?  Tell a story!

All writing is really story telling whether it is fiction or non fiction.  I started in radio news and moved to television news and no matter what I was told to cover, it always came down to telling a story! 

I have been writing for more than 30 years now and I still find myself stuck sometimes.  But when I take a deep breath, review my notes and relax, the story that is hidden in my head starts to write itself.  Then all I have to do is let my fingers hit the keyboard and tap out my tale.

It’s just as easy if you are writing for business.  Do your research.  Interview your experts.  Type up your notes then start writing.  Remember that stories have beginnings, middles and ends and so do brochures, newsletters, business plans and sales slicks.  All you have to do is remember the objective of your story and include a call to action. 

Oh and one more old news axiom that has helped me innumerable times – Tell em what you are going to tell em’ — tell ’em and then tell ’em what you told ’em.

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