Friday, September 10, 2010

A Different Kind of Prompt

As writers, we've considered daily prompts. Some like them - others don't. But some people need prompts to get started. Others run out of ideas and need assistance during the dry spells. Well, here's a prompt that's unique, educational and downright fun.

Read the headlines of any newspaper on the map, any day, around the world. Newseum is an interactive museum located in Washington DC, but this tool is online, for your use where you sit - at home.

My mind went wild with ideas for its use in a writing career:

1. Writing prompt. For practice writing, to hone your skills.

2. For blog ideas. When you post five times a week, the well gets a little parched every now and then.

3. For trend identification. Look to see what's rocking a section of your country, your world. Notice not only the current events, but also the sports, the arts, the local politics. If you see the idea in multiple papers, chances are it's a good one to twist into a pitch to a magazine publisher.

4. Study the differences between regions. Weather isn't all that makes regions different. Food, sports, politics, dress, and more.

5. Scout out the flavor of a region so you know how to pitch a regional magazine elsewhere. Regional magazines are great markets for freelancers, but why stick to your own region? Study their local paper and secretly gather fodder on how to pen tales that sell in places you've never been.

6. Learn from headlines where your book might be a connection to more readers. Your cooking, memoir, history, or mystery might have something in similar with another state or country you never considered.

7. Learn who does book reviews, who to contact to pitch articles. You might not even know those newspapers existed, and as a result, contacts for marketing, pitching and sales. Study the ads for even more enlightenment on where you can sell your wares.

8. Learn about new festivals, fairs, events, presentations, concerts, and more. Connect with markets and customers.

9. Discover new settings for your stories. Maybe your protagonist needs to take her travels to a new destination? Maye your antagonist can come from a foreign region? These newspapers can orient you on how to craft the locale to fit.

10. Uncover new ideas for your story line. Crimes can be crazier in real life than in fiction. A crime two thousand miles away from you might spark a new plot.

I love a good tool, and I bookmarked this one. Thought you'd like this on a Friday, on a day when the week is old, your brain in more tired, and you love seeing a shortcut of any kind to make your career easier. Have a great weekend!


Cathryn Hasek said...

Hi Hope! I so enjoy receiving your "Funds for Writers" emails in my box each week. I have been published in a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book due to your wonderful lists. Thank you! I like this post as, yes, we do get a dry spell when blogging...I just started a blog that I am hoping to share with the is called "Sistersitting" and it is my sister's journey through cancer treatments with me, writing, at her side. the link to it is Thanks for all you do for us freelancers! Cathy Hasek

Hope Clark said...

Oh I love that title - Sistersitting. That's catchy and so meaningful. Keep at it. That sounds like something that could work.

Hope Clark said...

Oh I love that title - Sistersitting. That's catchy and so meaningful. Keep at it. That sounds like something that could work.