When you read an article, what pulls you into it?
It can be the title first, and probably that’s what catches your eye first and foremost. It’s no different from a headline. Have you ever read or bought anything that didn’t have a compelling title or headline? No!
OK, so that pulls you in first, but what really gets you is the concept behind the article — the hook or the angle. Nobody wants to read an artcle about “beaches,” but if you wrote an article about how red tide causes allergies, you’d no doubt get readers who have allergies and people who live near the shore.
So, how do you find this “hook”?
It takes some cogitation and perhaps, some research. I’ll talk about that research in a minute, but let’s talk about the thinking part.
Here’s what you do:
- Think about a topic — in general. Let’s say, “pets.”
- Narrow that down to categories. OK, “dogs, cats, horses, iguanas, etc.”
- Pick one. Let’s say “cats,” since I know something about those. You choose what you’re most interested in.
- What about cats? Hmm… How about “cat health.” People are interested in that, right?
- Now, let’s specify: Why do cats eat grass? Bingo! I think we have an article. (And if you’re interested in the topic, you can click on the link and read my cat blog. 🙂 )
And remember how I talked about research? OK, that’s where the next step comes in:
6. Go to the library and check the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature. See if the magazines you want to submit your story to have covered that topic in the past 2 years. If they have, then don’t submit to that magazine or find another topic. Editors want fresh material.
You may be able to access the Reader’s Guide from your local library’s website with a library card. If you don’t have one — get one! They’re very useful, and there are tons of great research resources you can use, including full-text articles, whitepapers, newspapers, journals, and other materials that you’ll need for general researching. I remember needing to spend hours in the library and still couldn’t get everything I needed. Today, much of what you’ll need to write any article can be found online.
We’ll go much deeper into research in future articles. For now, concentrate on finding article angles. Try it with a few topics and see how easy it can be to come up with a good hook.