How to sift through your story ideas

March 28, 2017

Writers see the world as a storehouse of story ideas. But not every idea is worth a story. Good writers sift the ideas, rejecting some (or most) and selecting the few that have potential. Here are some ways to sort through your ideas.

Raise the bar. Be ruthless about whether this is a fresh idea or something you’ve seen so many times that it has become a cliche.

Find fresh angles for common ideas. Some stories are difficult to do well because they’ve been done so often. If a story idea seems to be too sentimental or tired, consider whether it needs a tighter focus, a different point of view or a deeper meaning.

Ask tougher questions. Consider the cliched story about a “miracle.” What is the actual miracle? A person? A piece of technology? A turn of events?

Looking for more strategies? Apply by April 3 for Poynter’s Reporting and Editing Summit, a weeklong seminar May 7-12.

Taken from Generating Story Ideas, a seminar snapshot with Tom French and Kelley Benham French at Poynter NewsU.

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