Question of the Day: Please tell about your February WOMAN'S DAY article about saving time. 1)How does one go about writing an article that is mainly comments from readers? 2)Did you or a WD editor ask for their ideas on WD's website? 3)Did you query the idea of the article or did the editor suggest it to you?
FYI: the question is about this article that I wrote for Woman's Day.
And here are my answers:
1) This type of feature is called a round-up, I guess because it's a round-up of quotes. Frankly, these articles can be super-easy, but aren't always because, as you suggested, you have to find all sorts of sources and out-of-the-box quotes and ideas. How does one go about writing a story like this? You gather as many quotes as possible, then filter through them to see which are usable, then plonk them (often edited) into your piece. Because I often get way more answers than I need, I usually try to organize the emails as they come in: deleting (though not permanently) the ones that definitely won't fly, sticking the maybes in a folder designated for the particular magazine, and cutting and pasting the winner's quotes right into my document. When I start writing/editing the piece, I pare it down from there.
2) Did I get quotes from the WD website? Nope, these quotes and sources came directly from my contacts, friends, friends of friends, Profnet, etc. When you do a round-up, because your editors are always looking for "fresh" ideas and quotes, it's important to cast as wide a net as possible. Which is why these types of stories can appear deceivingly easy. Sure, you might get lucky with your direct contact list, but most often, you won't. And in this case, I didn't. I begged and pleaded and emailed everyone I knew and posted on PR sites, etc, until I had a fully fleshed-out story.
3) Did I come up with this idea or did an editor assign it? Hmmm, here's the funny thing: I wrote this piece, like, well over a year ago - maybe even 18 months ago- so to be honest, I can't remember! I *think* however, that I pitched it based on my own life, things that I'd found myself doing to shave off a few minutes in my day: I bought a more efficient hair-dryer; I'd read about some cream that slows down hair growth so you only have to shave your legs once a week and so on. And so from there - yes, it's coming back to me! - I pulled together four or five new products and ways that women were attempting to salvage their minutes and plopped them in a pitch.
Hey readers out there, for those of you who write round-ups, do you find them easier or harder than the standard straight reporting piece? I'm curious to hear preferences...