5 Steps to Story Success: How to Pick the Perfect Article Idea


On Thursday’s trip to downtown Roanoke, our first stop was the Leisure Publishing Company, now known as LeisureMedia360, the company behind local magazines like The Roanoker and Blue Ridge Country. A few of the employees met with us to share some words of wisdom on how to navigate the world of magazine publishing. Samantha Hoback is a recent college grad-turned-editor (and fellow French major!) who talked about some of the methods that she uses to find her article ideas.

1) Use other magazines for inspiration:

There is a pretty good chance that the magazine article that you’re reading has its roots in one that the author read before— and that’s okay! Recycling is an essential part of the magazine world, where ideas are limited. Just find a magazine or specific article that interests you, especially one with a similar theme and audience, and use it to start brainstorming.

2) Adapt existing stories to fit your niche:

After you have found a story that interests you, consider your magazine’s desired niche. What is the theme of your magazine? What specific audience are you hoping to reach? Use these questions to take your inspiration and put your own spin on it. In the end, you should have an article that is attractive, interesting and relatable— to you, your audience, and your magazine.

3) Take advantage of popular, local events:

If existing magazine articles have failed to pique your interest, then take your search to town! Covering local events and interviewing the people involved are both great ways to come up with a story; one question can uncover a completely new and interesting topic.


If all else fails, take a popular article or idea and try to recreate it. Find a new setting, new people, or a similar event and do it your way. This also works well for annual local events or timeless topics that are already guaranteed to attract a lot of readers/viewers.

5) Curiosity is key!

With whatever method that you choose, it is important that you stay curious throughout your story search. Pay attention to details, ask a lot of questions, and be sure to keep your own interests in mind. Simply having the right attitude and the right questions can make a big difference, and a great story.

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