Monday 16 March 2015

How to Find a New Angle on an Old Idea

"There are no new stories...every story is a variation on seven different plots." (Rebecca Solnit)

As a feature article writer, it's tough to find a new idea.  Your task is to find a new angle on an old idea.  Blogger Krista recommends five different ways to do just that.

1.  Look for elements of your experience that couldn't possibly be present in someone else's story. Author David Bergen writes about working as a truck driver for Canada Packers in Winnipeg as a young adult.  He used his spare time to write what he thought the stereotyopical writer wrote.  In retrospect, however, he says he should have been writing about the characters he met at Canada Packers.  Often the story is right under your nose (read my post "Underneath the Ordinary Lies the Extraordinary"

2.  Look for original details to your story.  As Lisa Moore explains, she searches for "original details that she collects during the day from what she calls the 'glimmer of a beginning'".  If you ask a group of people all to write about the contents of their closets, each one will approach it in a different way.

3.  Mine your personal history for the right angle.  Author Annie Dillard ( used to hide pennies for others to find.  She drew the literary analogy:  "Always be on the lookout for small treasures that surround us."  

4.  Once you discover a small detail, look closer for a new angle.  For example, examine a familiar item.  Re-read your diary and compare the past and present you.  Or research an event that you once attended to gather the big picture details.  Immerse yourself in the memory.  

5.  Use an inanimate object as way in to the story.  Describe what it looks like, how it feels, how it smells and how it sounds.  Andrea Badgley talks about how a rolling pin led her to write about "old kitchens, the musings of grandmothers and favourite family meals".  As blogger Krista says, "use an inanimate object to put a unique spin on a universal story".

For more about finding new angles for old ideas, visit

No comments:

Post a Comment