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Max your Mileage: Getting More than One Story Out of One Idea
by Kelly James-Enger
Spin off related stories from your initial idea
and youll nail more assignments and make more money in the process. Its easy
once you know how.
I call these kinds of stories "reslants."
Reslants are different than reprints. A reprint is a piece thats already been
published. A reslant is an entirely different piece with a new angle, new
approach, and possibly new sources as well.
One Idea, Many Angles
To come up with reslants, take a look at your
initial story idea and think about other angles and other possible markets for
it. If youre pitching a nutrition piece about the benefits of eating more
fruits and vegetables to a general interest magazine, for example, you could
take a weight loss angle for a fitness magazine and pitch a piece on ways to
get your kids to eat more produce for a parenting magazine. In the meantime,
you could query a womans magazine about a piece on make your dinners
healthier by including more vegetables and a regional magazine about types of
fruits and vegetables grown in the area.
Reap your Research
Heres an example. Several years ago, I wrote
a piece about the benefits of using a heart rate monitor during exercise for a
womens fitness magazine, focusing on weight loss. Last year, I did another
story on heart rate monitors for Experience Life, a custom
publication thats sent to members of Lifetime Fitness clubs,
covering the benefits of using them regardless of your individual fitness
goals. A few months ago, I wrote about heart rate monitors again, but this
time for a mens fitness magazine. This time I focused on how they can help
body-builders squeeze the most benefits out of their cardio sessions. Although
I used several different experts for these stories and used fresh quotes each
time, the second and third stories took little time to write because I already
had done the background research for the first article.
Look for New Angles
Even if you cant come up with a slew of
different angles at the outset, watch for possible ideas during the research
processyou may find unexpected story ideas popping up. When I was researching
a story on the glycemic index ("GI") which rates carbohydrate foods on how
dramatically they affect blood sugar, I discovered a number of studies on the
GI and exercise performance. That idea became a second article for another
The Skys the Limit
The number of ideas you can spin out of one
basic concept is an unlimited as your imagination. The key is to think
creatively when pitching and researching stories. To query an idea, you come
up with a specific angle on the idea. Challenge yourself to come up with
multiple angles for every story you writethen look for appropriate markets
and start querying!
Even after the story is completed, watch for
other ways to reuse your research. Maybe a new studys been published that makes
your topic timely again, or youve discovered a new angle for a different
market. Reslanting lets you reap the information you already have on your
computers hard drive, and that means more money in less time in the long run.
© Copyright 2004, Kelly James-Enger
Kelly James-Enger has authored more than a dozen books, including Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success (Writers Digest, 2012) and Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: The Writers Guide to Making Money Ghostwriting and Coauthoring Books (CreateSpace, 2010). Check out her blog, Dollars and Deadlines, for practical advice about how you can make more money in less time as a nonfiction freelance writer.
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