I hear a lot of writers talk about how they won’t apply for certain jobs or worry about accepting assignments because they know nothing about what they’d be required to write about and I hope to set you free today by letting you know you don’t have be an expert on a subject to write about it.
*Sigh* Felt good didn’t it? Letting out that breath of fear and hesitation is the first step to taking your writing career to the next level. Now, back to business. How do you write about something of which you have no knowledge? Research, research, research.
Do you need to become a leading expert in the subject before you can write your lede? No, but you need to become literate in the subject before you can begin searching for and interviewing subjects. Read up on the bones of the subject and then look at your audience. Are they other experts, hobbyists or the casual reader? Knowing your audience helps you determine how in-depth your knowledge of the subject needs to be.
Read up on the subject and then contact an expert. Ask the basic questions and also ask for research and source recommendations. Ask about angles on the subject that are not often covered. Remember, even for the casual reader you want to offer something more – something that will catch a reader’s eye and draw them into the article. Every parent has read an article on infants losing their belly buttons, but an article targeting less circulated newborn belly button issues like hernias is a great and different angle.
On Thursday: Part 2 – Research Sources.