- Once you have your inspirational quote you have to provide the color to the story - explain why it's inspirational.
- Use the idea of conversations as a means of exploring two sides of a discussion or showing how one issue can be interpreted in multiple ways.
- What is inspirational to you will mean next to nothing for someone else. It’s down to you to show why you are passionate about what someone said, or wrote and how that makes you feel today.
Inspirational quotes can come from just about anywhere – a book, a song, something your grandma used to say. As long as it gets the cogs in your brain turning, it probably has the potential to inspire an article. This is taken from Wordtracker's "Web Content Recipe Book"
“What is the use of a book” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”
This quote was taken from Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. A quote can give you a great basis for an article. If we take Alice’s quote it says a lot about why we write. What’s the point of writing a book, an article, or content for your website, if the words aren’t going to deliver a clear idea or prod people into thinking?
If we extract a literal meaning from the quote it suggests that when we write we should include pictures such as photographs, graphics, or illustrations to highlight the subject matter we are writing about. It could also mean that we should look at the ways in which we can include conversations in writing. This could be done by exploring two sides of a debate, writing a chatty article, or including an actual conversation you had with someone. This is all a very literal interpretation of the quote, but there is also a metaphorical way to look at Alice’s quote.
How do you write? It’s a tricky question to set about answering but it’s something you should think about. Writing is something which many people have a natural gift for while others take a little more practice. Writing is a lot about offering up a description of what is going on in your head, or of something you have witnessed.
When I was studying at university one of my first assignments was to interview someone who was important to my community. I chose the local Sheriff and asked my tutor for some tips on how to write my first feature article. He gave me some fantastic advice which I still think about today. He told me to write everything down and to absorb what I saw and felt. Where is the courthouse? What are the surroundings like? What is the weather like? Describe his office. Color? Hot or cold? What does he sound like? What is he wearing?
I had all of these kinds of questions in my head before I met the Sheriff and as my tutor told me, arrived fifteen minutes early for the interview to get a feel for place and write down my observations. What he said, his opinions, the facts he reeled off were all secondary to the sights and sounds I experienced when meeting him.
You could say writing is the act of an interpreter. How do you translate what you see with your eyes into words on a page for someone else to read? The way to do this is to build a picture. Just as my university tutor told me, describe everything and then the picture will develop allowing the reader to not only understand your writing but see it in their mind’s eye. When you read a novel, for example, you paint your own picture. That’s why film adaptations are rarely better than the novels because the actor on screen is never quite what you imagined him/her to be.
A splash of color
In journalistic terms many editors will talk about color. They don’t mean white, green and brown color but a colorful description which brings the story to life. When an editor asks me include plenty of color in an article what they mean is they want plenty of description, a touch of flowery language maybe, and plenty of observational content. The first thing you learn as a journalist are the six questions: Who? What? Where? Why? When? How? These are the pillars of our writing. I would suggest anyone who is thinking about writing should use these six questions as a framework to build their story around.
Now let us go back to Alice. Carroll of course knew about pictures and conversations. Alice In Wonderland is filled with fantastic color and imaginative description which was famously borne of Carroll’s penchant for recreational drugs. I must stress I am not advocating the use of mind altering drugs to get a good story going, but it’s clear his fantastical use of color, imagery and symbolism helped create one of the most loved children’s books in literary history.
If we think about the ways in which to create a conversation in writing they can be done in two ways - either by creating one within the piece or by generating one around the piece.
A conversation within a piece of writing can be achieved with a chatty tone, or more effectively, as a conversation on the page. To do this you should think about the ways in which people discuss things - it’s not linear, it can be rambling, off in tangents, beginning on one side of the fence and then crossing over to the other. A conversation is an exploration of ideas and writing these down is a conversation on the page.
Generating a conversation around a piece of writing is a little different. This requires a lot of thought. What you want to do is pose questions, provoke not only thought, but a response to what you have written. A good way of doing this is through an opinion piece. Writing down exactly what you think with no self-editing is not only liberating but incredibly exciting too. Asking your readers a question opens the door to debate and conversation. Asking them to think about an issue you raise is a good way of generating a response - this may be one which advocates your points, but of course some comments may be trashing your opinions - so grow a thick skin beforehand.
Comment is free
As a journalist we publish articles online all the time and then wait to hear from our readers. What did they think of our article? Did they agree? Were they shocked by what was written? As soon as I have an article published online, I log on to find out what people’s comments are. It gives a fantastic insight into what your readers are thinking, and sometimes gives you some good ideas for further articles.
The basis of a good quote isn’t dependent on the person who said it. It doesn’t matter if it comes from a football pundit, a politician or a pop star - the guts of a good quote comes from you and your interpretation of it. If you come across a quote which makes you stop and think then it’s a good one, simple as that. When you read or hear a quote you think is valuable or even inspiring, write it down and jot down some ideas or thoughts you have on it. It is these initial thoughts which will form the conversations and pictures you go on to provide your readers with.
Carving Up Mark Nunney - How to get lots of content from one interview.
How To Get Ideas - How to come up with ideas for your killer content.
Observation - Tips on how to observe and how to use what you've seen.
How to Write a Book Review - Ideas on how to approach your review.
About Rachelle Money
Rachelle is a contributor to The Web Content Recipe book
Nowadays, Rachelle is Communications Manager at Scottish Renewables.
She graduated from the Scottish School of Journalism in 2005 where she was awarded an internship with two national publications - The Sunday Herald newspaper and The Big Issue magazine.