How to: Finding story angles

A while back, an editor asked me to pitch some yoga ideas to him.  I sat scratching my head (in the lotus position), then called on a colleague for assistance.  Linda Formichelli, author of The Renegade Writer, helped me out.  I thought the process she described for coming up with angles was excellent, and with her permission I’m posting it here:

Linda said:

“I like to come up with ideas by thinking about opposites — what do all the other magazines write about yoga, and how can you make your topic the opposite of theirs?  Like if they all have articles on how to calm down with yoga, you can do one on how to energize with yoga.  If they do one on easy poses, you do one on advanced poses that only experts should try.

Also, is there any news in yoga?  Some yoga organizations might have news releases on their sites.

How about taking a topic from a non-health mag and applying it to yoga?  Say, a business mag — like how to do desk yoga, how to use the wisdom of yoga on the job? Hmm, maybe one on yoga etiquette — what do do before, during, and after a yoga class, such as should you ask questions during the class, how can you minimize the effect of sticking your ass in someone’s face during downward dog, can you move to make yourself comfy during meditation, what if you have to sneeze (or worse)?

You can do this exercise with any magazine.  For example, a pet mag…aren’t there yoga classes for people and their pets (I think there are!)?  Or a men’s mag…yoga exercises you can do with your partner, or yoga exercises that will help make you a better lover.  Along the same lines, maybe a list of specialty yoga classes, such as yoga for pregnant women, yoga for seniors?”

And that, my friends, is how the master does it.