You saw something. An idea struck your mind and you realised that this is something you want to address. The medium you choose? You decide to write a story!
Writing personal stories and experiences is mostly a straightforward process. The more in-depth pieces, needing a careful analysis of theories and complicated concepts are a little trickier.
While both styles share a common foundation. The big question is – where do you begin?
It does sound like an intimidating goal. Especially for first-time writers. But believe me, when I say, it’s really not that tough.
Here’s a little guide that might help you research for your first article or help you out with your 150th!
The most important part of beginning your article is to decide your topic (duh) and find an angle that makes your piece different from others.*
(*Note: You need a ‘different angle’ because, in today’s social media age, the most obvious angle has been worked on within the first hour, and you’d end up with a story many have already read about.)
The simplest method to do this is to break down the topic and then think about the following things:
If you can answer all of the above, let’s move on. If not, it might be time to go back a little, brainstorm and then come back to check.
Now that you have a broad topic and angle, it’s time to do some deep searching. You may have read up a lot on the topic already – (I usually open a Google doc, and save every link I read. Believe me, this doc is important and will be used in almost every step here on) and now it’s time to filter it.
If your story is absolutely unique, you can, of course, skip over this next list, but I’d recommend to give it a glance once.
Here’s what I suggest you should do:
If you’ve made it this far, you’re good to go ahead. However, if you’ve stumbled on something that kills your idea, I’d suggest you go back, read up a little more and try again!
Trying to understand what is happening, why, and for how long it has been going on, will be extremely valuable for your piece.
Just like any good fictional story, your piece too, would need a bit of context, which will only come from when you do lots and lots of reading up (remember the Google doc we talked about? Use it here too!).
Especially if you are looking at theories, concepts and research to be quoted in the article, do think of these points:
Understanding context is extremely important while writing. It can make or break your story, and greatly affect the reader’s perception.
Since you’re almost at the writing stage, you need to take a broad look at the information you actually want to use in your piece.
You have the points that you know will work. But are they going to hold up as ‘credible information’?
What really doesn’t:
Once you have a general understanding to ensure that your information is good to go.
Interviews or quotes are extremely helpful when you wish to back up your arguments. You can either source them yourself or use the internet and media to quote existing statements. For both, here are a few questions you should ask yourself before including quotes from anyone into your narrative
Now I know you might be probably thinking, “Well this is not what this piece is supposed to be about.” But keeping a basic idea of how you want to present your information (long form, photostory, short crisp opinion article using infographics, etc) is something that shall help you when you research tremendously.
If you want to say use infographics, you would most likely wish to focus on numerical data whereas if you wish to do a long-form story, context and in-depth research will be what you’ll be looking for.
If you followed all the tips above, I’m pretty sure you’re good to go.
Remember that plagiarism is never appreciated and your own opinions are extremely important.
In today’s day and age, writing can be a powerful tool, and it’s up to you to harness it in order to bring about a change. Thousands have done it, and now, it’s time for you too!