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I have a lot to say. A lot of the time. Lately, though, I haven’t been able to get any words out.
About 95% the reason I named this site “Where Do I Start?” is because, even though I love to tell stories, there can be so much I want to say, that I don’t even know where to begin. Storytelling is one of my favorite pastimes. I want writing to be my career. But the past few days, I haven’t been able to get past picking up the pen or clicking “New Blank Document” on Word.
There are two major challenges that I personally go through as a writer. Perfecting your skills is no easy task for anyone, but some are easier to accomplish than others. One of those is content development.
I haven’t had the experience yet of sitting in on an editorial staff meeting at a publication. But from my understanding from seeing movies, TV shows, eavesdropping in on conversation, the team gathers around in a circle, Duck-Duck-Goose style in a conference room, and pitches story ideas to publish. Some may be interesting, some may get shot down, and some may be written and then, at last minute, may not be printed. And no writer ever wants to be faced with that disappointing dilemma. So how, if it seems like there’s been something written on every subject matter ever, can we come up with fresh content that readers will actually be intrigued by?
Elizabeth had a point. Someone can walk by you and you notice the smallest thing – her shoes, for example – and you learn that she bought those shoes at a vintage store which almost closed down, but then got bought out by investors, who then took the store and turned it into a national retail chain. You never know where the next “big thing” could be. Story inspiration is all around us, it’s just a matter of being brave enough to dive into that pool of curiosity.
Once you have the story idea, you then have to actually start writing it. This is my second problem and the basis of the title of my site. Where on Earth do I even start?
Writing up a story doesn’t have a formula like the five-paragraph standardized test essay that we learned in sixth grade. And while most news stories typically follow a 5W format, it doesn’t work for everything, especially not feature pieces.
I have yet to discover the most effective and efficient way to start a story strong in the lead sentence. It’s where the hook is. It grabs readers in and actually encourages them to keep reading, which is so hard to do now. We’re impatient and looking for instant gratification – nobody wants the lead to be buried; we want to know the answer to our questions immediately. But isn’t that the mystery of the story? How do we keep people questioning before they even catch the headline?
I don’t have any secrets to share on writing the perfect masterpiece. I’m still trying to figure out what they are. The truth is, though, there might not be any secret doors to unlock the perfect article or feature. The best words might just fly out of our fingertips naturally and combine into gorgeous sentences. If that’s it, then it’s beautiful. But I don’t know yet. I might not never know. Until then, I’ll let the ellipses do the work…