These tips on how to find a story angle to write about are for writers who are stuck for article ideas. Finding angles is about teaching your brain to generate ideas.

feature article angle“Once your brain has opened up to this kind of idea generating, you’ll be amazed by how much more perceptive you’ll become in general,” Glatzer writes in Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer: How to Win Top Writing Assignments. “Conversations you overhear will trigger ideas for new articles. An event you witness in a parking lot will trigger another. Moments before drifting off to sleep, you’ll think of your most compelling idea ever.”

Training your brain to find story angles for your articles, short stories, novels, and even your query letters is simply a matter of examining your ideas from different perspectives.

How to Find a Story Angle to Write About

Successful freelancer Jenna Glatzer says spotting article ideas that magazine editors will pay to publish is simply a muscle you can develop…

Ask your experts for article ideas

Steve Martin, co-author of Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, e-mailed me some great information for an article I’d already submitted to Health magazine. Since his information was too late for the feature article I was writing, I pitched a new idea for another article to the same magazine. If you’re looking for feature article ideas, stay connected to your experts and interviewees.

Dig around in your life

Jenna Glatzer encourages freelance writers to find feature article ideas in their own lives. In Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer, she writes, “If you’re coming up short [of Big Ideas], fill in these blanks and find out the many ways you’re already an expert.”

Jot down the answers to Glatzer’s topics below, and you’ll start learning how to get ideas for magazine articles fairly quickly:

  • I’ve worked as a:
  • I’ve visited/lived in:
  • My hobbies are:
  • Every school I’ve ever attended:
  • I know how to:
  • My pets:
  • My friends are interesting because:
  • My religion/spiritual practices:
  • I’ve taken lessons in:

Take your last magazine article idea one step further

One way freelance writers win new assignments is by poking around one idea until it bleeds fresh juice. To do this, brainstorm the following story angles about a topic we all want to know more about…

How to Find an Angle to Write About

“How to Find an Angle to Write About” image by Drew Coffman via flickr

  • One particular story angle (eg, how to become a freelance writer)
  • A more specific idea (eg, how to become a freelance writer when you live on an island )
  • Variations on one specific idea (eg, transitioning from freelance writer to the editor of The Writer magazine)
  • A ridiculous angle (eg, writing tips for Schnauzers who want to support their masters who want to be freelance writers)
  • A funny story angle (eg, how to become a freelance writer when you live in an aquarium)
  • A serious angle (eg, freelance writing about the lost girls of Nigeria)
  • A men’s or a women’s angle (eg, how to become a freelance writer for stay-at-home moms)
  • A teen’s or children’s story angle (how to become a freelance writer for tweens)
  • An angle you’ve seen, but can creatively twist (eg, how to become a freelance writer when you’re a tween on an island)

Coming up with creative, interesting story angles to write about can be the hardest part of being a freelance writer — and the most rewarding.

If your dream is to earn a living as a freelance magazine writer, read 5 Ways to Become a Freelance Writer Who Gets Repeat Work.

Fellow scribes, how do you get feature article ideas? I welcome your comments below…

May you find the perfect feature article to write about, and an angle that will titillate both you and your magazine editor.


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3 thoughts on “How Freelance Writers Find Stories to Write About”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    The angle of your article is the same thing as the slant. And if you don’t have an angle, then you don’t have an article!

    Any freelance writer can pitch an idea about making money as a novelist to the editor of The Writer magazine, but the editor can’t give you an assignment unless she knows precisely what you’re offering to do. That’s your angle.

  2. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Zelda,

    You’re in luck! It sounds like you like to write about women’s issues — and there are dozens of women’s magazines to choose from. Your first step is to learn how to write query letters and pitch your article ideas to editors. Your second step is to start pitching your ideas, and keep trying until an editor assigns an article.

    I’ve written several articles on freelance writing, pitching magazine articles, and tips for writers. Let me know if you have specific questions; I’ll post the article link here, or write an article that answers your question.

    Happy writing,

  3. I have much to write about womens feelings in relation to living with sickness,sexuality,retaining independace and adjusting to widowhood.
    Where can I go to publish or circulate what I have written??