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Monday, August 20, 2012

A Five-Step Process to Writing Two Stories About the Same Thing, at the Same Time


             Last post I talked about reslanting. If you're thinking of doing it, you're probably wondering what happens if you have have two or more stories on the same subject assigned at the same time. 
            Take the example from last post, where I pitched a similar idea to Chicago Parent and Complete Woman. These are noncompeting markets, so the audiences for my articles—the readers of those magazines—are quite different. Chicago Parent, not surprisingly, is aimed at Chicago-area moms and dads. Complete Woman’s readers are women in their twenties to midforties who are looking for articles about love, sex, health, beauty, diet, fitness, career, and finances.
            So I wrote two completely different articles about social media. One described what parents need to know about social media, focusing on how Chicago-area parents are using it to socialize, keep up on children’s health issues, and create a new online neighborhood of sorts. It included a sidebar about whether you should “Friend” your teen on Facebook.
            The piece for Complete Woman focused on the dos and don’ts of using social media as a dating tool, exploring issues like what a man’s online profile may reveal about him. My sidebar focused on a woman who had connected with a former classmate through social media—and married him! (Readers love happy endings.)
            The very heart of the idea-harnessing social media—was the same. But the angles, the sources, the approaches, and the overall articles were very different. Yet because I knew the difference between Facebook and MySpace and could define a Tweet by researching the first article, the second took little time to write.
            To double dip this way without writing the same story twice, use this five-step process:

1. Consider the markets you're writing for (and their audiences) and create a slant specifically for each.
2. Use different expert sources whenever possible. (If you must reuse a source, get fresh quotes that are relevant to the specific story angle.)
3. Use a different structure for each story.
4. Find new “real people” to include as anecdotes.
5. Write different sidebars that complement each story.

            That’s it! Keep these five steps in mind, and you can write about the same subject at the same time, without writing the same thing twice or upsetting an editor--while you work more efficiently and yes, make more money. Readers, what do you think? Have you used a similar process to reslant? 

[This post was drawn from Secret 23: Write two stories at once, fromWriter for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success. If you prefer bite-sized nuggets to help you toward freelance success, check out my Dollars and Deadlines' ebooks: