Is your idea “actionable?”

When I heard the word, everything just clicked into place in my mind. Nikki Price, editor of Oregon Coast Today, a local weekly newspaper and webzine, was speaking to our chaper of Willamette Writers. It was a Tuesday night, so she was in the middle of her deadline, and she roped us into working on headlines and cutlines for this week’s issue. But she also talked about her history of newspapering and what’s she’s looking for in stories for her paper.

They don’t take much freelance, Price says. One reason is money. They can’t afford to pay much. But the other–and this is the one that hit home–is that too many writers don’t understand their mission. Every story must be “actionable,” meaning it gives the reader information which enables them to take action, whether it’s to attend a show, visit an interesting site, check out a new business, take a class or whatever. News you can use, I often call it.

That doesn’t allow much room for creative writing, but that’s the reality of her newspaper and of many others. So, next time you get an article idea, think about whether it’s actionable. What can the reader do with it?

*****

Continuing our series of sites where you can find writing work, have you been to fundsforwriters.com? Publisher C. Hope Clark offers two versions, plain old Funds, which is free, and Total Funds for Writers, which has more information and costs $15 a year. In addition to jobs, she lists freelance markets, publishers and agents, contests and grant opportunities. Give it a look at http://fundsforwriters.com

*****

My new book, Shoes Full of Sand, is available on Kindle right now and can be ordered at Amazon.com or directly from me at sufalick@gmail.com.

While you’re buying books, have you gotten your copy of Freelancing for Newspapers? It’s  loaded with useful information for all kinds of writing.

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