Get­ting an idea

Costa Levante News - - BOND'S WORLD -

In­vari­ably, when I meet ‘ new’ peo­ple and they are made aware of whom I am (like that Bond wo­man from the CB­News who has been writ­ing for some 25 years now) one of their first ques­tions they ask is ‘where do you get your ideas?’

Well, all I can an­swer to that is that I had good train­ing at the Writ­ing School in Eng­land. To be a writer means re­search, re­search, re­search. What more can I say... well this, ac­tu­ally.

Re­search – that means care­ful searches and en­quiries to dis­cover facts in a cho­sen sub­ject – is the stored energy in the free­lance writer’s pow­er­house of knowl­edge and ideas. Every­thing that hap­pens to the writer, ev­ery per­son he or she meets, ev­ery con­ver­sa­tion overheard or taken part in, ev­ery en­counter, ev­ery word read, can be use­ful re­search for the free­lance writer.

So, the per­son who wants to make it as a free­lance writer and make money from writ­ing must learn how to look out­wards to oth­ers and to an­a­lyse any hap­pen­ing; per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence is vi­tal for fresh and vi­brant copy.

From the first, a writer must be an in­ves­ti­ga­tor, a de­tec­tive fer­ret­ing out ma­te­rial to amuse, guide and en­lighten read­ers. I know this be­cause my school­book said so!

If a writer falls down on re­search, if a writer fails to read all that should be read, if a writer does not know how to get the most out of an in­ter­view, then the writer is func­tion­ing be­low par and will never make the most of ex­pe­ri­ence.

And, ex­pe­ri­ence is the best re­search tool of all.

These days, I am a fea­tures writer only. I no longer run af­ter the news; this is good see­ing as my run­ning legs are not as ca­pa­ble as they once were!

How­ever, free­lance writ­ers who want to make money must keep up with de­vel­op­ing so­ci­ety. They must keep up to date with leg­is­la­tion, with so­cial move­ments, re­li­gious opin­ion, busi­ness trends and as many facets of life as time per­mits; and, so-called ‘ lack of time’ should never be an ex­cuse not to re­search at all.

In this way, re­search is a con­tin­ual provider of ideas. From among those ideas, the writer can pick and choose the ones he or she wants to work on, ones that seem the most timely; the most ap­pro­pri­ate for a magazine; the most ap­pro­pri­ate for a news­pa­per; and the most promis­ing to be of in­ter­est to an editor.

Re­search comes ba­si­cally in three dif­fer­ent ways: Google is a great provider of facts and fig­ures. How­ever, here you can get your­self so wound up in facts and fig­ures that writ­ing a 600-word piece be­comes im­pos­si­ble sim­ply be­cause you have too much in­for­ma­tion for the kind of piece you were think­ing of of­fer­ing your editor.

Of course, there is cre­ative in­ves­ti­ga­tion. I re­mem­ber here a time when I scaled the iron gates of the waste site in Jávea. I had heard that there were peo­ple liv­ing there from what they could for­age from our rub­bish.

This was a time when I had a part­ner that drove me there, gave me a leg up, and helped me leave oh-so-quickly af­ter I had taken my pho­to­graphs. He left me... I won­der why?

Then there was the time when I found out that the brother of Gor­don Brown was plan­ning to marry his sweet­heart in Pe­dra­mala, a small vil­lage near to where I lived at that time.

I in­ter­viewed the bride, who was a news anchor for GMTV back in Eng­land; did a two-page spe­cial spread on the happy cou­ple; and sent the pho­tos and story to the Sun­day news­pa­per in Scot­land. At that time, send­ing a pho­to­graph and copy meant a trip to a news agency in Ali­cante.

And then there is the his­tor­i­cal slant. The slant of this de­pends upon the an­gle the writer is to take, but the gath­er­ing of his­tor­i­cal facts should mean ALL the facts. Once the facts have been gath­ered they should be an­a­lysed and con­clu­sions drawn; but the lat­ter should only take place im­par­tially when all as­pects have been sifted through.

So, you see: a writer has to be open to all ideas; to choose which ideas he or she wishes to fol­low and al­ways be ready to do a bit of re­port­ing if life of­fers you the chance... like I was hav­ing cof­fee in Teu­lada one day when, by chance, I met Lance Mak­lin, renowned for his in­volve­ment in the Le Mans dis­as­ter of 1955.

So, do not hes­i­tate, get a pen and start now!

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