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Weekend Assignment: Weather or Not?

Photo courtesy of the National Archief (via flickr)

Successful writers are nothing if not adaptable. This point came clear to me last week while watching The Weather Channel one morning. You may be thinking, The Weather Channel? Yo, Barb? What the heck does a cable channel devoted to weather have to do with me and my writing? My answer: Everything.

Weather… yawn… or not?

Let’s think about it for a moment, okay? The Weather Channel is on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s a lot of time to spend reporting something as limited and as boring as a weather forecast. Even if a hurricane slammed into a coast every single day, there are only so many ways you can say “strong storms rolling in” or “most of this front will pass south of town.” Yet, they manage to stay on the air and keep viewers coming back every day.

One niche, many facets.

Think of The Weather Channel as a niche magazine. Sun, rain, wind, and snow may form the framework of what The Weather Channel covers, but during a thirty-minute segment I saw:

  • Technology – in an on the street interview of people braving the elements to stand in line for the new iPhone.
  • Travel – a report on the best places to travel to see fall color.
  • Politics – Farmers struggling to survive after drought sound off on the delay of the Farm Bill.
  • Science – how weather affected a group of scientists who were filming one of the most active volcanoes on the planet.
  • Sports – Kick-off times (and forecasts) for football games around the country.

In the magazine world, these would be FotB filler articles. And I haven’t even touched on all the promos I saw for the evening programming where the channel boasts hour-long shows like Iceberg Hunters. Those shows would translate into feature articles in our niche magazine market.

Your assignment:

This weekend, your challenge is to take a simple niche market you would like to write for and discover new story ideas by connecting the niche to a broader variety of topics. Connect wine to politics. Find a way to link  travel to science. You’ll generate fresher ideas by stepping outside of the expected.

Until next time, happy writing!


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