Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Writing 101: What's Your Angle?

Please, take a moment to look at the image on this post. What do you see when you look at it? You may think you're seeing a box. You may take it one step beyond, and call it a moving box. It's the holiday season. Maybe it's a gift box. Maybe you're morose, and you see someone's home when you look at it. But I'm here to tell you that this is not a box. This is the box that was used to move the very first kidney used in the very first transplant in the country. And I want to tell you the story of that box. 

When you're a writer, you have to know how to take a regular box and turn it into a story. But a regular story of an ordinary moving box isn't enough. I have a question to ask you: what's your angle? 

More Than Four Sides

If you write nonfiction articles or blog posts professionally, then I am probably not the first person to ask you that all-important question. What's your angle? It's something that I have to deal with every day in my other writing life, and I've found that it's something for indie authors to consider as well. If you can come up with multiple angles on a story, it can help you improve a great deal as a creative writer. 

The angle on a story is the way you approach it, like the box example I used above. Now, if I were to tell you that this box was donated to the Salvation Army full of ugly Christmas sweaters and I want you to write about it, what would you write? Believe it or not, there are a ton of good story ideas right here. First, you can write about who donated the box. Why did they do it? Who are they? Where did they get the sweaters? To that end, why not make the story about the sweaters instead? What are the sizes, the designs? What are they made of and what is the Salvation Army doing with them and how long have people been wearing Christmas sweaters and why was this box of them dropped off? Or what about focusing ont he Salvation Army? How can I donate to them? What can I donate to them? Who will these sweaters help?

That's three different angles on the same exact box of sweaters. The sweaters didn't change at all, but that story did three different times. That's what it means to find a angle. And as a writer, it's your job to find a unique one. 

Tell a vampire story, if that's what you want to do. But discover your own unique angle on that story, and tell it in a brand-new way. That's what it means to find an angle, and if you can find one that no one else has found then you're doing your job as a writer.

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