100 Posts & beyond
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Reigning in on an idea
Lowell, MI- As I write this I am probably on my 107th post or more between my rolling portfolio of Emma’s Blogs.
I get my ideas from nature, from other people, art and sometimes from press releases.
“Get out of the office, go and talk to people, shoot some bull,” a presenter said at a writing conference in 1998 at Central Michigan University (CMU) in Mount Pleasant. In a million years, I could not have received better advice. I live by it. I swear by it.
A story is not going to walk into your office or into your space whatever or wherever that may be. You have to seek it out. If it does walk in, excellent. But, you still have to explore it in 3D. Otherwise you have a dry piece without juice and atmosphere. In sales, it’s called “drumming up business.”
My second editor Dave Trinka of Allegan County News, awesome photographer, told me that I should just do a drive around and get some photos. Well, with the photos usually comes a story idea, and you get a bonus break from the screen, the keyboard, and the editor. Sorry, Dave, Valerie and Jeanne.
“Ask yourself questions,” the presenter encouraged in that pivotal CMU conference.
Go to your local coffee shop and listen to what people are talking about. What is the talk of the town? Is it you? Or why has that coffee shop changed hands so many times? Why is it doing so well now? Once a co-pastor of a local church owned the coffee shop under the name Kava Klatch.
What happened to the pastor who just wanted to try it out for the sake of trying, used a fancy foreign name, and three month later went out of business?
Well, he’s a successful pastor at a successful growing church. Does that warrant a story about the evolution from church to coffee shop and back to church?
Interesting, isn’t it?
My second favorite stories are enterprising stories. They’re up for grabs, they’re that low-hanging fruit.
“What would Big Rapids or Mount Pleasant be without their sacred cows? Or better, what would Rome be without the Vatican? What would WordPress be without its users?
Can anyone guess what those sacred cows are?
They’re the anchor institutions or businesses in communities. Every community around the world has them.
“Find your sacred cow. What has she been up to lately?”
No. 1 HUMAN INTEREST STORIES
Everybody loves them. They are about people for the people. The subject of these does not necessarily have to be George Clooney or Brad Pitt. That’s been done million times all over the planet. You can get that anywhere. You probably see it on my site http://emmapalova.com
It does not have to be about your local habitual offender. That’s too easy. The news organizations got that from a massive press release from the police department. You don’t even have to change anything. The police chief probably sweated long hours over it.
“The easiest beat you can get is the police,” said former editor of the Ionia Sentinel-Standard Roger Harnack.
It does not have to be about the NBA franchise owner Donald Sterling who got into trouble for his racial comments. The TV and the Internet have us covered for the next 100 years on this one.
Look deeper inside your own community. Again ask yourself questions. Follow through and study your subject of interest.
Who is the woman behind the successful events drawing people into the community? What kind of a difference has she made? What is her impact on the community? Why does she care?
“She keeps reinventing herself,” said owner of Ace Hardware Charlie Bernard about the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce director.
That warrants a story on many different levels in spite of the fact that she is on every press release and in photos sitting on Santa’s lap promoting Christmas picture taking.
Why? Because she is different. She boldly stands apart from the crowd.
What happened to the former editor who got canned from two newspapers? Well, today, as we speak, he is walking the aisle to accept his doctoral diploma in communications.
“I’ll be walking tomorrow,” he posted on LinkedIn. “I still have to make a few corrections to my dissertation.”
What is the active ingredient in the Tazo tea that makes you go to sleep? Among the proprietary blend of 13 ingredients, the Valerian Root stands out. So, you pick it and write about it.
To be continued…..
Copyright 2014 © story and photos by Emma Pal