As a freelance magazine writer, one of my biggest challenges is finding new writing slants for articles (because there aren’t many new ideas out there!). However – like any writing habit – once you learn how to think of old article ideas in new ways, it gets easier and easier.
Before the tips, here’s a writing quip from a bestselling author:
“You may agree that taken literally, there really is nothing new under the sun. For a writer, you can always find a new angle. I’ve been amazed and absorbed, for instance, by the literature on essential oils from flowers and plants used for health and well-being,” writes Elizabeth Lyon in A Writer’s Guide to Nonfiction.
To learn more about freelance writing for magazines, read the Writer’s Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing, which contains dozens of tips about article ideas, angles, and slants. And here are 13 ways to find new writing slants for articles…
13 Ways to Find New Writing Slants for Articles
I find these questions particularly effective for nonfiction articles for magazines, but they may help you create new slants in fiction, too. When you have an idea – such as aromatherapy – but it’s not quite intriguing enough, ask yourself:
1. What’s the most recent research on aromatherapy? Check out ScienceDaily, Eurekalerts, or some of the bigger websites for the most current studies.
2. Who are some experts I can interview – and what’s special about them? If an aromatherapist near you uses her scents for something unusual, such as surgery, call her up. There could be a story there.
3. Is there an anniversary or special occasion to tie in? (eg, it’s been 20 years since the word “aromatherapy” was first coined or July 8 is National Aromatherapy Day).
4. Is there anything amazing, funny, or special about aromatherapy in the news (such as a celebrity or politician using it)?
5. In what province, country, or continent is aromatherapy most and least practiced? If I discover that it’s never practiced in Virginia, but very common in San Francisco, then I might have a new writing slant.
6. Are there specific scents – such as ylang ylang – that I can focus on?
7. Can I write a unique “how to” piece about aromatherapy? (eg, “How to Use Aromatherapy With Cats”). New writing slants could be as close as your furry friends.
8. Are there any numbers I can tie it to? (eg, “7 Different Brands of Ylang Ylang” or “20 Ways to Use Aromatherapy at Home”)?
9. Can I make aromatherapy sexy? Can aromatherapy make me sexy? Sex is always a strong writing slant.
10. Can I target it towards a different type of magazine, such as business, industry, sports, pets, or writing? Maybe you need a new writing audience, not necessarily a new slant.
11. Are there any secrets or little-known facts about aromatherapy, aromatherapists, or certain essential oils?
12. Can I make aromatherapy funny? I’ve read that humorous writing slants are difficult to do, and I’ve never tried it…but anything’s possible!
13. Is there any way to make aromatherapy frightening, controversial, or surprising? Controversy is a strong writing slant that sells.
Of course, you can always tie two or three of these slants together to make a great feature article…and before you know it, you’ll have more fantastic ideas than time to write them up and send them out!
Fellow scribes, do you have any tips for finding new slants for articles? I welcome your comments below…
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