By: Willard Grosvenor Bleyer PhD
How a writer may discover subjects for newspaper feature articles in the course of his daily routine by being alive to the possibilities around him can best be shown by concrete examples.
- A "community sing" in a public park gave a woman writer a good subject for a special article published in the Philadelphia North American.
- In the publication of a city directory was found a timely subject for an article on the task of getting out the annual directory in a large city; the story was printed in a Sunday issue of the Boston Herald.
- A glimpse of some children dressed like Arctic explorers in an outdoor school in Kansas City was evidently the origin of a special feature story on that institution, which was published in the Kansas City Star.
- A woman standing guard one evening over a partially completed school building in Seattle suggested a special feature in the Seattle Post Intelligencer on the unusual occupation of night "watchman" for a woman.
- While making a purchase in a drug store, a writer overheard a clerk make a request for a deposit from a woman who desired to have a prescription filled, an incident which led him to write a special feature for the New York Times on this method of discouraging persons from adding to the drug store's "morgue" of unclaimed prescriptions.
- From a visit to the Children's Museum in Brooklyn was developed a feature article for the New York Herald, and from a story-telling hour at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts was evolved a feature story for the Boston Herald on the telling of stories as a means of interesting children in pictures.
Magazine articles also may originate in the writer's observation of what is going on about him. The specific instances given below, like those already mentioned, will indicate to the inexperienced writer where to look for inspiration.
- A newspaper reporter who covered the criminal courts compiled the various methods of burglars and sneak thieves in gaining entrance to houses and apartments, as he heard them related in trials, and wrote a helpful article for Good Housekeeping on how to protect one's house against robbery.
- The exhibition of a novel type of rack for curing seed corn gave a writer a subject for an article on this "corn tree," which was published in the Illustrated World.
- During a short stop at a farm while on an automobile trip, a woman writer noticed a concrete storage cellar for vegetables, and from an interview with the farmer obtained enough material for an article, which she sold to a farm journal.
- A display of canned goods in a grocer's window, with special prices for dozen and case lots, suggested an article, afterwards published in the Merchants Trade Journal, on this grocer's method of fighting mail-order competition.
Next time you are lost for a story, get out and get into life!
You can read the book for yourself from the Gutenberg Project. I will be adding more sections of the book in my next blogs, but this is great!
Oh.. and DON'T Buy it! Get it for FREE! (It's legal!)