When writing an article, you need to have the relevant information in order to, well, write it. But where can you get this information from?
You can get interviews: ask the person or persons a list of questions, note the answers, or things they say; if you’re lucky, you can use a dictaphone, but remember that transcribing can be a lot of work. Alternatively in an interview, you can set the person off talking and just record what they say. This can provide lots of material, but you might not get the exact answers you want.
Other articles! It’s not technically cheating: just remember to reference the original article somewhere in it.
Listen to the news, be it on the radio, or the TV. There’s a whole torrent of information on there.
There’s interviews, online, books, in passing (eg talking to people), speeches, newspapers… Literally, everywhere. But with so much information it’s hard to condense it down into stuff that’s useful, and stuff that can be chucked away.
Imagine you’re reading the finished article. What do you want to know? Great! Now you know what to put it. Highlight, write it in a new list, do whatever you have to do. Make sure you only put in the information you’d want to read; and, hopefully, it’ll be the stuff that your readers will want to read too.
When you actually come to write the article, include as much relevant, pressing information as you can at the top. Your readers don’t want to have to read the entire thing before they get the actual stuff they want. They want to know the basics first: who, what, why, when, where and how. Then, you can sprinkle in other snippets before finishing with a flourish.
Information can be difficult to obtain. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, try thinking outside the box. For example, if you want to interview a writer, but can’t find one who would be willing to do it, look elsewhere. Drop a notice into your local library. Ask around and see if any of your friends or family have a connection. If all else fails, you’re a writer, right? Use yourself!
If there’s not an article out there for something, chances are yours could be the first, so make sure you have all the top-notch info. Then, pack in some other stuff around it, keep your readers wanting more. Imagine it as a parcel in a cardboard box. The cardboard box is the overlay, the title if you like, or the basic facts. The polystyrene bits that you squidge in your hands is the meaty stuff, things that some readers will read and others will flit over. And then, inside, is the thing you actually bought from the store: the DVD, the remote control, the new set of Christmas lights or the penguin. The gem. That’s the things you readers want most of all. The ‘climax’ to your article, if you fancy. Get it all in, and voilà! You’ll have something to give to the delivery man.
As I’ve said before, include the information you want, and, chances are, your readers will want it, too.
Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! 😀