The Story

Bear this in mind. Get it tattooed on your back in mirror writing if you can stand to: ‘It’s all about telling the story’. Writing and journalism are about telling the story in such a way that people will listen. It’s about making an impression, and that means it’s about telling the story in a way that will keep them hooked. Sometimes before I write the story or the anecdote down, I’ll tell it verbally to a few friends. I’ll tell it in various ways, keeping the facts the same, and see which telling gets the most dramatic response. When you call an editor, or email one as we now tend to do, you have to deliver the knockout blow. Journalism 101 teaches you that news is not DOG BITES MAN, but ‘MAN BITES DOG’.  And remember that. If there’s any space left on your back, get it tattooed on there too. In the next few days I’ll probably talk about some of the feature work I did. I used to specialise on stuff that got editors flushed with excitement… and I used to promise the articles that were near impossible to bring in. But somehow I’d always manage. So what I’m saying here is to plan the story you’re going to pitch with care. If it’s some tired old has-been story, then revamp it… package it in a new way. Put a spin on it. Tell it with a kick. And remember, editors get hundreds, or thousands, of pitches all the time. They are looking for ideas that deliver the knockout punch.


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