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Finding stories: Editor's Notes #199
November 30, 2015

It is not enough to be busy.
So are the ants.
The question is:
What are we busy about?

--Henry David Thoreau

In this issue:

1. Finding stories
2. Tickled my funnybone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt

1. Finding stories
Sometimes there are stories burning inside us that we ache to tell.

Other times, we sit in front of a blank page or screen and feel empty.

Whether we write fiction or nonfiction, we need to write stories to engage our readers. And stories are all around us. We just have to know where to look.

My first paid writing gig was an article I pitched to an international children's magazine based on a story I read in my local newspaper about a teen who won an international film award, beating out competitors like National Geographic. Because the teen was local, I could easily interview him to give the story a whole different slant than the one in the newspaper.

Besides your local newspaper, here are other places to find stories:
  • newspapers from other regions
  • regional or topical magazines
  • alumni magazines
  • church bulletins
  • school or other organizational newsletters
  • those Christmas or New Year letters your friends send out
  • radio or TV news or talk shows
  • overheard conversations

I save likely publications, and when I have time, I stand at my kitchen counter flipping through them, ripping out articles that have any use to me, literary or otherwise, and putting a quick written note at the top to remind me why this paper deserves to live in my house. Then I drop the rest of each publication into the recycling container right beside me, and I put each article into the appropriate file.

Most don't have me rushing to my list of potential magazines right away, so I flip through the files from time to time when the story well seems dry. Having my own file to call up at any time gives me a sense of order and confidence.


2.Tickled my funnybone
From a church bulletin:
The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.


3. Interesting Web site
Once you have a good story in mind, make it a great story by paying attention to story basics . The article linked to below has been around for a almost ten years, but it is timeless in its advice.

4. Writing prompt
Go through your local newspaper and look for a good story that could be told in a different publication. Either write a query letter to the new publication or write the new article just for practice.

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