Writing a story is like putting together a puzzle
Paws’ mom has been sitting in front of the computer for the past month, working on putting together these puzzle pieces for 2 articles that she is writing for a national magazine.
Unless the people who are to be interviewed are in front of you – whether at a meeting, conference, or event – you have to reach out to find your sources. And these sources need to be credible.
While you can use the Internet and Google as a resource, most times, especially if writing for a news publication, they CANNOT be your source. Sometimes these sources will refer you to the Internet, and then, this information can be vetted.
Last spring, I was delighted when I was asked to do a story home improvements for pets? As an aspiring pet writing, I was on cloud nine. But the question was, where would I start? While I have heard about cat walks in California and on AnimalPlanet, I had no idea of who had one. That was something I really wanted to include in the story?
I started by calling a contractor that I knew? Did he have any suggestions? He suggested calling a local landscaper in a town that he’d worked in.
It made sense because landscapers might work because my editor had said anything pet, including fish, birds, dogs, cats, and more. I started by calling a local landscaper. Up here, no, we don’t have any call for things like invisible fencing, and ponds. Ponds would be a specialty. Maybe try someone in the southern part of the state.
Strike out, and the deadline is only a couple of weeks away? What next? I knew someone who constructed cat enclosures. That was another angle I wanted to include in the story.
They would be at the upcoming cat show, and I’d ask them.
The show was Saturday. Now, as I work full-time Sunday through Wednesday (13 hour days when I include the commute and lunch break), I really have a hard time squeezing in interviews in that time frame. So….. the interviews need to be on Thursday, Friday or Saturday.
At that cat show, I arrange an interview with them, and yes, they do know of someone who would be ideal. And that person was at the cat show. They’d introduce us. When Lisa came over, she said, oh, I know you, from somewhere? Where?
It turned out I had met with her a few years before to discuss how to set up a blog. I had been thinking about setting up a blog, and had no idea of where to start.
As it was Saturday, we’d have to arrange for the following weekend. She’d have to check her schedule. I took down her number.
However, we were having a hard time connecting our time, and my deadline was looming.
I went to the Internet in my quest for a landscaper in southern Maine? Who would be a good choice. I took down 3 names of businesses that looked like they might do ‘pet’ related work. On the third call, I found a landscaper that did pet related work, and she had a perfect candidate for me to chat with, who had made major renovations to their house, for their dogs. Wow, the pieces were coming together.
Now, if I could get hold of Lisa and her cat renovations. Interview, tomorrow. And now, I needed to put a contractor into the mix. Who? My wheels were spinning. Then, a light bulb went off in my head. I did know a contractor who was also the Animal Control Officer. I met with Lisa, and her cat, dog friendly home. It was incredible. Awesome pictures. It couldn’t be better. This puzzle was really coming together, and I was moving from worrying about how I’d put it together, to the realization that it was coming together better than I could have dreamed.
Now catching up with the contractor, Josh, and I could write the story. I’ve learned some time ago, that it doesn’t work to write the story without all the pieces in place, because just one quote or idea, could change the whole story.
Now all the interviews were done. This puzzle now had to be put together into a story. And then, select the photos that would best illustrate the story.
Lots of people think news reporting and writing is really easy. It’s not. Not all stories, or blog posts, involve putting together that many puzzle pieces, but some do. It’s a way to use my knowledge, skills and abilities to problem solve, and then, come up with a final product – a story, an article, a blog post. They are not all masterpieces, but then again, some are.
Have you ever started a project that you felt was putting together a puzzle? Have you ever put together a blog post that just would not come together? Please share your comments and stories, and weigh in on the discussion.