Saturday, 27 April 2013

How to Find an Angle on a Story

Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West
Following on from the last post, I got another commission this week from the same client.  I've never cared for musicals, but I like the Wizard of Oz (who doesn't?) and was interested to discover that Wicked the musical takes the focus away from Dorothy and onto the witches.  Because I've been looking for a new job recently, I've been trying to figure out what my passions are.  This is tricky to narrow down because I enjoy almost everything except heights...mostly I just like having new experiences.

The point of me telling you this is that finding an angle on a story is essentially finding something related to a subject that you like or are interested in.  An inquisitive writer should be able to do that about any given subject.  A writer who earns a decent wage is certainly someone who has to have that skill.  If you can't find any interest in the subject, don't take the commission.  Life's too short to write about something that bores you.  Given that Wicked is looking at the Oz story from another perspective, I admired the imagination.  Certainly I admired the sustained success of it - people are still snapping up tickets to see it nearly 10 years after the Broadway debut.  If only I'd written it!  If you're interested on the angle I took, you can read what I came up with here.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

How One Direction made me $250 which I sell out.

Are you on LinkedIn?  You should be.  If I hadn't been on there I wouldn't have made $250 writing about One Direction.  There are numerous writers groups you can join on there (Content Writers and the Freelance Writers Connection spring to mind) but be warned: there is a lot of crap to sift through.  A lot of the content writers stuff, for example, is people wanting hundreds of words for $10.  Put another way, it's a total rip off and further proof that a flooded labour market (lots of people want to write) makes labour cheap for the bosses.  The exception to this is if you live in a country where ten bucks goes further than for most of us in the Western world - you'll see a lot of posts for content from India for example.
One Direction after reading my feature on them.

Another hazard is bullshit scams and I was half expecting that when I replied to a post from someone called Jennifer (whose profile picture looked suspiciously like a stock shot) wanting freelance writers to get in touch for work.  My advantage was that I had written for Huffington Post.  Once they have accepted a pitch you get a login to submit further articles and I guess if you've written for them once, you're more likely to get published again.  Huff Post don't pay for your submissions, so they probably just enjoy getting the free content.  Writing about 1D was the challenge though - I couldn't (and still can't) name you one of their songs.  But people who make a living out of writing usually have to produce articles to order, possibly on subjects they know little about.  I was interested in the challenge - could I do it and still make it interesting?  You can read the article and decide for yourself here (and please share the story with the buttons top left of that page if you like it).

Jennifer wasn't a scam.  She even paid up front to convince me that she was genuine, though has since asked me to 'reconsider' my fee should we work together again.  I feel like Huffington Post should be paying for content (they're making money from the ads after all) and I believe that they do, if you're a celebrity writer.  So it struck me that this was a way everyone wins.  HuffPost gets content, Jennifer gets some traffic for her site and the writer gets paid.   Could be the future, no?