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Find Writing Success With A Unique Approach
A Parental Lament
I’m beginning to feel like a parent who shows their child the best way to approach a problem, and then watches in vain while their child tries every other possible solution. It is easy to understand why the phrase “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” was first coined.
I have spent two years reading articles written by my fellow writers on HubPages, an online writer’s site available to all. I have read some excellent articles that have captivated me and held my attention throughout, and I have read a great many articles that, quite frankly, bored me to tears. What was the difference between the good and the not-so-good? In a word…..approach!
Just today I read an article about a recipe for chicken casserole. It was written well in that the grammar was fine; however, it did nothing to grab me, shake me and excite me. Here is the reality article writers are facing. Google a search for chicken casserole; heck, let’s do it together. How many entries did you find? I just found 17,100,100 entries under the search “chicken casserole.” Now what do you think the chances are that the latest chicken casserole recipe is going to be seen on Google? Can you say “next to none?”
The same thing can be said about novels or non-fiction books. I am a mystery genre fan. I read two or three mysteries per week and I can tell you without a doubt that they all follow the same formula: there is a problem and the main character spends the entire book solving that problem. Period! Now how many mystery writers are there in the world? I would venture to guess that there are millions. How do some writers, like James Lee Burke, stand out in the crowd with their work for decades, while others fade into obscurity faster than the pet rock?
No matter whether you write articles about recipes, or write full-length novels, if you don’t have a unique approach and couple it with outstanding craftsmanship, you are doomed.
How’s that for a slap in the face?
But telling you that and showing it to you are two different things, so I’m going to touch upon several genres and give you examples of what I mean by approach. If you are ready then get comfortable and let’s begin.
I have a writer friend by the name of Victoria who writes recipes. Her online name is VVanNess, and she does a wonderful job of taking a unique approach to recipes. All of her recipes begin with the title “Easy Peasy” telling her readers that this particular recipe will be very easy to make. It might be “Easy Peasy Tacos” or “Easy Peasy Chicken Casserole,” but the important thing to note is that her recipes are all “easy to make” and thus she has separated herself from the crowd of recipe writers.
Here is another category that is tough to stand out in. There are so many travel articles out there, so how in the world does a writer stand head and shoulders above that crowd?
Most travel writers will write articles about “Great Sites In Barcelona” or “Great Places To Visit In Europe,” and just thinking about that I am stifling a yawn. How about taking a new approach? How about “Great Places To Visit For Under $20 In Barcelona,” or “The Best Music Venues in Madrid?” By doing that you are cutting out most of the competition and designating a niche that is uniquely yours.
I will turn to another writer friend of mine to illustrate this example. I won’t even begin to guess how many craft articles are online today, but I’ll bet the number is in the hundreds of millions. Tough competition for sure; so how about lowering the odds a bit in your favor?
Sally, my friend (sallybea on HubPages) does a series of “wet felt” craft articles. Quite frankly I had never heard of “wet felting” until Sally started her series of articles, but I know without a doubt that within six months to a year, Sally will show up on all the wet-felt searches for those interested in such a thing. That, my friends, is smart thinking.
Let’s return for a moment and discuss the mystery writers once again. I mentioned James Lee Burke earlier. What is it that makes his series of novels so wonderful and memorable? Well, his writing is topnotch for sure, but he has also developed a character that people relate to and greatly enjoy. His main character, Dave Robicheaux, is a very flawed human being, fighting his inner demons (and alcoholism) to try to do good in this world. He is a character that people can identify with and greatly enjoy, and the setting of the novels, in the rich bayou country of Louisiana, is also something that gives great texture and depth to his novels.
Think of some of your favorite contemporary writers and then ask yourself what unique approach has the author taken to make their books successful.
HOW TO ARTICLES
This is a rather broad category, but one that will serve our purposes nicely. Let me give you one example of the perfect “how-to” article with a unique approach and then we’ll move on. Here it is: “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Car Repair.”
Need I say more? Well, I will anyway.
Whoever dreamed up that marketing and writing approach was a genius. This is an approach we can all relate to so very easily. Who hasn’t felt like an idiot when trying to do a repair on an automobile? We even say those words when we make a mistake….”Oh, I feel like such an idiot.” Well now all the idiots of the world have a guide written just for them.
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I Could Go on but You Get the Point
It is not necessarily the title, but a great title certainly helps. It is not necessarily great grammar, although great grammar is nice. No, for all the examples listed above, and for the thousands I have not listed, it is all about a new approach…..finding a new way to present old information. That is the key!
But how do you do it, you ask?
Well it certainly helps if you have some knowledge about the topic. It also helps if you have some passion about the topic. But to really hit a home run with your approach, you need to think like the average citizen. What is it that they need? What is it that they relate to? What is it that they will be interested in that has not been presented to them before….or….what unique approach can you give in presenting the mundane?
I am not saying this is easy but I am saying it will pay huge dividends if you make the effort. Whether you are an article writer looking for passive income, or a novelist looking for the next series of bestsellers, finding a new approach can be your key to riches.
And keep this sobering thought in mind: eventually, if the horse does not drink, it will die of dehydration. Just sayin’.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”