Writer Angela Workman On Dedication, Gender, and THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE

courtesy of Focus Features

A beautiful WWII drama, The Zookeeper’s Wife comes to theaters Friday, March 31.

by Angela Bourassa (@angelabourassa1)

Major films with a female writer, director, and leading role are incredibly rare. Hopefully films like The Zookeeper’s Wife from Focus Features will help turn the tides for women in film.

Based on the non-fiction best seller by Diane Ackerman, The Zookeeper’s Wife defies its romance-sounding title and somewhat cheesy poster to deliver a truly great World War II story of resilience, bravery, and conviction. The opening scenes at the zoo set a whimsical stage, making the transition to war feel that much more abominable. Suspense fills scene after scene as Antonina (played by Jessica Chastain) and her husband put everything they have on the line to save as many people as they can.

I got the chance to speak with screenwriter Angela Workman about how she constructed this beautiful tale, her view of the film industry, and what writers must do to achieve screenwriting success.

Angela Bourassa: How did this project and your involvement with it come about?

Angela Workman: Diane Ackerman’s book was brought to me by producer Kim Zubick. (It was brought to her by producers Diane Levin and Robbie Tollin.)  Actually, Kim approached my agent, Sandra Lucchesi at the Gersh Agency, and Sandra told Kim there was only one writer who could adapt that volume of material — me.  The book fascinated me for many reasons, and so I decided to come aboard.

Angela Bourassa: How did you approach the source material? Do you have a method that you follow when adapting books?

Angela Workman: I don’t know that I have one method when I approach an adaptation.  Generally I let my instincts tell me what the story is, where the focus needs to be, and to sort of feel out a beginning, middle, and end. If I can’t instinctively find those things in the source material, then I pass on the project.

Angela Bourassa: One thing I really appreciated about this film was that, despite all the death and horror, the darkest moments were handled very delicately. You and Niki Caro showed a great deal of restraint, which must have been hard to do — and do well.

Angela Workman: I think neither Niki nor I felt we wanted to be too explicit in the more atrocious aspects of the story.  We wanted the focus to be on the quiet bravery of Antonina and the more masculine bravery of Jan.  We wanted to reveal their humanity. But the story had to have its darker moments, and so I shaded them in the writing, and then Niki made her decisions as to how to present them.  She actually made some very bold choices, I thought.  We didn’t want to shy away from the truth of what happened during that terrible time.

courtesy of Focus Features

Angela Bourassa: The moment that struck me the most from the film was the scene at the train when the little children raise their arms to be helped up by Jan. Was that moment in the book, or did you come up with that scene? It absolutely broke my heart.

Angela Workman: The train scene was Niki’s idea.  I had written the scene to have Jan standing outside the ghetto gates looking in — I wasn’t certain that he would have been permitted inside the ghetto during the deportations.  But Niki offered me a beautiful, sad image, which was that she imagined one of the children would reach up for Jan’s hand, and Jan would then be in the position of having to help the child onto the train.  Once she described that visual horror to me I knew she was right, and I wrote the scene for her.

Angela Bourassa: Though this film is called The Zookeeper’s Wife, it’s really about this couple and what they’re able to accomplish together. In another writer’s hands, the Zookeeper himself might have become the main character. Aside from the fact that the book is called The Zookeeper’s Wife, why do you think it’s important that this story is Antonina’s and not Jan’s (if indeed you do think that’s important)?

Angela Workman: Of course, we had to call the film by the book’s title because the book was a best seller (and is again, now that the film is coming out).  We’d be crazy not to use that title!  But a deeper answer is, we so rarely see female protagonists in these types of films, and we, as a bunch of women filmmakers, wanted to see what would happen when a woman was at the center of a story like this.  We have Sophie’s Choice and Anne Frank, and not much else.  This was our chance to tell a story of heroics during the Holocaust from a female point of view, a chance to show what compassion looked like, what it meant for Antonina to have essentially won her war, which is a story we’ve never really seen before.

courtesy of Focus Features

Angela Bourassa: Much of this film’s drama is built out of moments of suspense. How do you create suspense in scenes?

Angela Workman: I guess I create suspense by holding tension — I try never to break tension between characters, even in happy scenes.

Angela Bourassa: Does your experience as an actress inform your writing?

Angela Workman: I did train as a classical stage actress, and my stage training informs all my writing.  I think I developed an ear for dynamics between characters, rhythmic writing, tension, dialogue — all of that comes from theatrical training.

Angela Bourassa: You’ve written several period pieces about strong women. Do you ever feel pigeonholed as a writer, or have you carved out this niche for yourself by choice?

Angela Workman: I’ve written many scripts centering on male protagonists, too, they just haven’t been made yet.  But women writers do usually get hired to write for women, which I love to do.  I also love to write strong male characters.

Roland Emmerich was the first director to hire me to write a huge, epic history centering on men.  It was about Spaniards conquering the Maya in Yucatan.  He didn’t care about my gender, he just really appreciated my ability to write these large-scale histories.  He made it possible for me to write other films with male protagonists. I wrote a large-scale epic adventure set during the Ming Dynasty in China for WB, and was hired based on that script for Roland, which remains one of my favorite projects.  He still wants to make it, by the way.  I’ll always be grateful to him for that.

courtesy of Focus Features

Angela Bourassa: It’s unfortunately quite rare these days for a film to have both a female writer and a female director. What was it like working with Niki Caro? Can you comment on what it’s like for women screenwriters in Hollywood these days?

Angela Workman: It was great working with Niki.  She’s incredibly astute, very specific.  She knows her own mind, she knows exactly what she wants, she gives very precise notes.

Women need to be hired more often.  What else can I say?  The disparity is ridiculous. Roland Emmerich saw no reason not to hire a woman.

Angela Bourassa: Based on IMDb, it looks like you’re enjoying quite the hot streak right now. What does it take to have a solid career as a screenwriter?

Angela Workman: To have a solid writing career, you have to have skill, an agent who believes in you and who never sleeps, and you have to jump on material before anyone else.  And you have to be very, very disciplined.

Angela Bourassa: Any pieces of advice for writers trying to break in?

Angela Workman: My advice is to read every script you can get your hands on, good or bad.  Read them all.  The bad ones will teach you as much as the good ones.  I was a reader for a decade, it’s how I learned to write screenplays.  Read, read, read.  And learn to be disciplined.

And don’t talk about writing.  Just write.

The Zookeeper’s Wife will be in theaters nationwide on Friday, March 31.


Angela Bourassa is the founder and Editor in Chief of LA Screenwriter.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:22+00:00 March 28th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

Get Paid to Blog: 6 Obvious Signs Content Marketing is A Fit For You

Your writing career has you pitching articles to print magazines and online publications, self-publishing informational ebooks and even earning some cash from your fiction writing.

You’ve got all your bases covered, right?

Wrong. There’s one big writing income stream you’re missing out on: paid blogging.

Paid blogging, known in the industry as content marketing, is creating blog posts that attract a company’s ideal customer and potentially generate new leads. It’s not about selling products or services — it’s about offering value to readers to increase brand awareness and build trust.

Content marketing could offer a significant boost to your freelance writing income. This writing niche is expected to be a $300 billion industry by 2019 — and many companies are seeing the opportunity to outsource their blog work to freelance writers.

If you can write novels and magazine articles, you can probably write paid blog posts. Here are six signs you’d make a top-notch content marketer.

1. You’ve mastered conversational writing

This is one type of corporate writing where jargon isn’t welcome.

Companies are paying for posts that engage readers and make difficult information easy to understand. Writing doesn’t have to be formal to be professional!

You won’t be rewarded for your oversized vocabulary in this field. If you can simplify sentences, use contractions and slang, and maybe even add relevant GIFs to your blog posts, you’d make a great content marketer.

2. You can grab readers’ attention

Readers often find a company’s blog because they searched for an answer to a problem.

Your client’s blog is one of many they could choose to help them. Your job as a content marketer is to keep them from heading back to Google to search for answers elsewhere.

Your essay-writing skills will come in handy here. You already know the ropes of crafting an attention-grabbing hook. Why not put that talent to use as a paid blogger?

Your clients will thank you when they see their site visitors sticking around!

3. You’re a natural storyteller

You have one blog post to make a new site visitor care about your client’s company.

How do you do it? Tell a story.

Content marketing is about forging a connection between readers and a company’s brand. If you can write compelling fiction, you can craft an engaging brand story.

Good storytelling is the difference between a distant corporation and a friendly business that cares about its consumers. Who said writing fiction was a non-transferrable skill?

4. You have an area of expertise

Companies in nearly every industry work with writers to improve their blogs…and some of those industries are pretty complex.

Part of a content marketer’s job is to make confusing information simple to understand.

Companies need writers who understand complicated topics so they can explain those ideas to potential customers- — without relying on industry-specific jargon (remember that conversational writing voice we talked about?).

Having an area of expertise gives you a huge leg-up as a content marketer, especially in certain industries like the legal or medical fields.

Potential clients can glance at your past experience and feel confident in your ability to simplify their subject matter.

5. You can meet deadlines

If you’ve ever written a journalistic piece, you’ve probably bowed down before the almighty deadline.

Content marketers may not be rushing to get a piece submitted in time to make a print deadline, but making your deadlines is still crucial in the world of paid blogging.

Most corporate clients have well-thought-out editorial calendars that dictate the ideal date to publish a particular post. If you submit a piece late, you could throw off their publishing schedule.

Companies are often juggling a team of freelancers to meet their content marketing needs. If you stand out from the crowd as the one whose work is always on time, you’ll set yourself up for recurring writing assignments.

6. You’re a decent editor

You’re not submitting your blog posts to a magazine with a full-time editorial team to catch typos and hold your hand through big-picture edits.

Freelance content marketers typically work with the in-house marketing team at a company. Unlike magazines, marketing teams often don’t have the skills or the time to polish your work.

Part of the value you bring a company is the confidence that their blog will be professionally written. If you can be your own editor, you’ll win major points with your content marketing clients.

It’s well worth your time to explore freelance content marketing. It could be the next big break in your writing career!

Have you ever thought about getting into content marketing? If not, what’s holding you back?

The post Get Paid to Blog: 6 Obvious Signs Content Marketing is A Fit For You appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:23+00:00 March 28th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

Director Dagen Merrill On How He Got His Sci-Fi Thriller, ATOMICA, Made

by Ashley Scott Meyers

In this week’s episode of the podcast I talk with director Dagen Merrill. We talk through his process for finding a screenwriter to write the script as well as how he found funding for the film.

You can listen to the audio portion of the podcast by clicking here or through iTunes by clicking here.

You can also read a transcript of this episode.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:23+00:00 March 27th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

6 Free Tools That Will Help Any Freelance Writer Get Better at Pitching

What’s the greatest mystery of freelance writing?

Generating ideas? Conducting interviews? Sending invoices?

Nope. It’s pitching.

Where should you send your queries? Which editor should you email? When should you follow up? If you’re anything like me, these questions are a constant buzzing in the back of your brain.

Luckily, I’ve discovered a few tools that help me pitch smarter — and even created one I thought was missing.

Want to streamline your pitching process? Give one or six of these free tools a shot.

1. Google Sheets

The greatest pitching tool might be lying right under your nose. Seriously, if you’re not using Google Sheets to organize your life pitches yet, it’s time to get started.

My initial inspiration came from Lola Akinmade Åkerström, who creates pie charts that reflect the number of pitches she sent and had rejected or accepted each year.

I wondered how on earth she knew those kinds of numbers, and after some Googling, discovered that some writers use spreadsheets to track every single pitch they send.

Writers like Alicia de los Reyes. Or Julie Schwietert Collazo.

Impressive, right? Well, once it’s set up, it’s pretty easy to maintain. You can see examples in the posts above — but at its most basic, your spreadsheet needs to include columns for an outlet, title, pitch date and follow-up date. Plus a place for editor feedback, and a way to indicate where your idea is in the pitching process (accepted, rejected, or my favorite, crickets).

In her excellent Pitch Like a Honey Badger course, Schwietert Collazo also recommends creating a spreadsheet that lists publications and editors — which you can update with information like email addresses, preferred topics and pay as you come across it.

2. Trello

Although I’m a Google Sheets fanatic, it’s not for everyone.

For a while, freelance writer Danielle Corcione tried to track her pitches within the platform, but found herself “getting frustrated” with all the columns.

So she turned to Trello, a web-based project-management tool. In this post, she explains her process for tracking pitches with Trello — and it’s definitely worth a read.

You can also use the tool as a repository for pitch ideas. When I’m struck with inspiration at the grocery store, I open Trello and pop the idea onto my “Headlines” list.

(I also have a “Get Sh*t Done” board where I track all of my assignments, biz to-dos and life maintenance tasks — but that’s a tale for another time.)

3. Where To Pitch

Naturally curious — and ok, nosy — I have no problem coming up with ideas for stories. What I find challenging? Figuring out where to pitch them.

I’m not the only one: In writers’ groups on Facebook, people are constantly saying things like…

Travel+Leisure turned down my story on skiing in Azerbaijan. Do you know who else might want it?

I have a killer idea for an article about detox teas, but that’s not my normal niche. Which health markets accept freelancers?

So, in hopes of helping people like me, I created Where To Pitch. On the site, you can type in a market or a topic, and related publications will pop up.

Whether you’ve got a brilliant new idea, or a pitch that’s already made the rounds of rejections, my hope is that Where To Pitch will help you find a home for it.

4. Who Pays Writers

Let’s say you have a fabulous story about breakfast. You might consider pitching it to Eater. Or Extra Crispy. But before deciding, you’d probably like to know which one pays better.  

To get that information, simply hop over to Who Pays Writers, a crowdsourced site where freelancers share their pay rates at different publications. (Please keep it valuable by adding your own experiences, too!)

Not only will knowing rates help you figure out which outlets are worth your time, it’ll also put you in a better position when it comes to negotiating.

If you know what a market’s average per-word-rate is, then you can feel a little braver when it comes to asking for higher pay.

Remember: The worst they can say is no.

5. Your Library Card

You thought these were all going to be digital tools, didn’t you? Well I’m a sucker for the library and all the resources it offers.

When it comes to pitching, I love plopping down and browsing through magazines to take note of the editors on the masthead and the sections where my pieces might work.

Sometimes, you can find recent magazine issues on issuu, and I certainly do that in a pinch — but I don’t find it as gratifying as the glossies. Or, you could buy a membership to MediaBistro’s AvantGuild, but the selection of titles is limited and occasionally outdated.

6. Rapportive

How do you figure out which editor to pitch? You can, like I mentioned above, look through mastheads. You can also search Twitter or LinkedIn.

But contacting them is a whole other ballgame. In this story, I mention some strategies for finding an editor’s email address, including one of my secret weapons: Rapportive.

After you type an address into Gmail, this magical tool scours LinkedIn profiles — and if it finds a match, that person’s profile appears in your sidebar.

Of course, not every editor’s work email is associated with their LinkedIn, but if a profile does pop up, you’ll know you’ve scored.

Speaking of email tools, you might wonder why I didn’t include the popular email-tracking extension Streak. Well, the reason is simple: I hate it. When I tried it, the only purpose it served was to make me INCREDIBLY anxious.

That editor opened my email 17 times and never responded? Why? They must hate me. Maybe I should go back to scooping ice cream at ColdStone…

You know how that spiral goes. So I say just avoid it.

Using the tools above, you’ll be able to pitch a little more confidently; a little more systematically. You’ll get inspiration for where to pitch your stories, and knowledge of who will pay for them. But you certainly won’t get all your ideas accepted.

Because, despite all our best efforts to turn pitching into a science, there’s still another person on the other side of every query — which means it’ll always retain an element of mystery.

Maybe that’s what makes it such a thrill.

What are your favorite tools for pitching? What’s your least favorite part of the pitching process?

The post 6 Free Tools That Will Help Any Freelance Writer Get Better at Pitching appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:23+00:00 March 27th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

How to Use BookBub to Get on The Amazon Bestsellers List

In January, 2017, I gave away 60,301 books on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo combined. And that’s just for one title.

I nearly died of excitement. Not only did it mean 60K people were willing to take a chance on my book, but it meant exposure, sales and several other big wins for a tiny little author like me.

How’d I do it? It took blood, sweat, tears and a little luck.

A look into my marketing strategy

To understand my marketing strategy, we have to rewind about a year.

Around March 2016, I decided to make the first book in my series, Fire in Frost, permafree.

Permafree is a term that simply means the book is always free or “permanently free.”

Though I don’t make any money on downloads of book one, the idea is to capture readers’ attention so they’ll hopefully buy the next books in the series. At that time, I had the first and second books out, and the third was almost ready.

Fast-forward to December 2016. I submitted my free book to BookBub for consideration, and I couldn’t believe it when I got the email saying they accepted my book for a feature and were planning to run my ad on January 4, 2017. This was the tenth time I’d submitted to them for that same book. (And you can only apply once a month.)

What is BookBub?

If you’re not familiar with BookBub, it’s the holy grail of ads for fiction authors.

BookBub is what made all the difference in this promotion. If you hang out with other writers long enough, you’ll discover that BookBub is THE place to advertise your books if you can.

How it works is that BookBub sends out newsletters to thousands of readers each day. You pay to get your book featured in their newsletters. The price varies depending on the price point of your book and which newsletter you want to be featured in.

They’re willing to consider permanently free books, but in general, they’re looking for book deals that are deeply discounted.

How to get a BookBub feature

While BookBub is incredibly effective for authors, it is extremely hard to get your book accepted.

I tried 10 times with my free book before finally getting accepted. I recently had another author friend say she tried 18 times before getting accepted.

That said, there are a couple of things you can do to increase your odds of having them feature your book. Here are just my suggestions:

  • Make it the best deal you can. BookBub wants to give their readers the best deals, so try to offer your book free (if it’s the first in the series) or for $0.99. They usually won’t feature anything above $2.99, and they’re unlikely to feature your book at that price point if it’s always priced there.
  • Try with the first book in a series. BookBub seems to like first in the series because (as I understand it) they will make money off affiliate sales of your other books if their readers buy the rest of the series.
  • Make your book available on all platforms and in all territories. BookBub wants deals that appeal to all their readers. Although they sometimes feature books that are exclusive to Amazon, you typically have a better chance if your book is available on all platforms (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Google Play) and if the deal is available in all territories (US, UK, Australia, India, and Canada).
  • Have an amazing cover. Believe it or not, readers really do judge books by their covers, and so do the people over at BookBub. If you have a less than great cover, it’s worth considering a redesign, not just for BookBub but because it will help in all your promos.
  • Finish your series. BookBub finally accepted my deal once the entire series was available for sale on all platforms. This isn’t a guarantee that they’ll accept your book, but it helps because readers don’t want to wait around for the next one, so it makes your deal more appealing.
  • Gather reviews. BookBub doesn’t have a minimum amount of reviews they require, but more reviews give the impression that your book is more popular. It also gives BookBub’s editors an idea of how readers will respond to your book. You can gather reviews by including a call to action at the end of your book, giving away free copies, or encouraging reviews from people who’ve already read the book.
  • Talk up your book. BookBub features a comment section when you submit your deal. Use it to talk up your book. Mention if it’s won any awards or what editorial reviewers or big-name authors have said about it. I mentioned that my series had over 200 5-star reviews on Goodreads (at the time).
  • Be flexible. BookBub is in such high demand that if you need a certain date, they might already have it full. Instead, consider planning your promotion around them. They’ll ask you if your date is flexible or not. Be open to anything, and it will increase your chances of getting a feature.
  • Keep submitting. Submit as often as you can, and don’t give up!

How to leverage a BookBub ad

After paying for the ad, I knew I needed to devise a game plan.

I wanted to make the most out of this feature as I could. I applied to multiple other ad sites and newsletter services and got accepted to most of them. I planned to run ads that whole week so that it would help boost my Amazon rankings. Most of the ads ended up running on Monday or Tuesday, and the BookBub feature ran on Wednesday. Here’s how my investment broke down:

  • BookBub: $115*
  • EBook Soda: $15
  • Book Goodies: $17.50
  • The Fussy Librarian: $5
  • Reading Deals: Free
  • ReadFree.ly: Free
  • EReader News Today: $35
  • Many Books: $25

*BookBub ad prices vary depending on your category and price point. I ran my ad for a free book in the Teen & Young Adult category.

I also increased my Amazon ad spending to $10 per day and ended up spending $39.68 during the week of the promo. I also ran Facebook ads for $10 per day and spent $43.69 during the week of the promo. For other free promos, some friends agreed to share the book in their newsletters, and I also shared the freebie with mine.

When all was said and done, I spent $295.87 to get my freebie out to as many people as possible. These promos catapulted my free book from around #2,000 in the free Amazon Kindle store to #7 in the entire store. I hit #1 of all free teen books on Kindle.

That high Amazon ranking further increased my exposure and kept the series selling really well the entire month (and sales are still coming in!). Overall in January, I had 33,485 downloads on the Amazon US site, 8,491 downloads on Amazon’s international sites, and 18,325 downloads between Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

What did I get out of this?

Profit: You might be wondering why I would do all this just for a free book. After all, I’m not making any money off it, right? Well, that’d be the case if I only had the one book. By reaching readers with the first book, sales of the second, third, and fourth books also spiked. By the end of the promo week, I’d already made my money back and more from sales of my other books.

Reviews: After running the promo, my reviews spiked. I’ve received well over 50 more reviews on book one on Amazon, and I’ve now exceeded over 1,000 reviews of the series on Goodreads. All this translates into even more exposure.

Bestseller Status: Toward the end of the month, I decided to run a quick $0.99 sale on books two, three, and four. Since the sales boost from this promo had already increased my ranking, this extra sale helped push my books to #1 in their Amazon categories. I also made the top 100 author list for teens. Granted, it’s no New York Times bestseller, and I won’t be bragging about being an Amazon bestseller on my book covers or anything, but it was a personal goal of mine that I was happy to hit.

Have you ever considered giving BookBub a try? Let us know in the comments below.

The post How to Use BookBub to Get on The Amazon Bestsellers List appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:23+00:00 March 24th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

THE LARIAT GIRL by Suzanne Prescott


After finding out she is the ransom in her little brother’s kidnapping, a courageous young woman executes a rescue plan and fights for survival after submerging herself in the twisted world of the abductor.

“An incredibly unsettling and original, dynamic plot with a fantastic female lead” – Fresh Voices

“A very well thought out & well written abduction thriller with a fresh, unique take” – WeScreenplay

For questions and congratulations checkout Suzanne Prescott on: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:23+00:00 March 23rd, 2017|Categories: 2016-2017 Winner, Suzanne Prescott, The Lariat Girl|

Beauty and the Beast Script (1991)

The original Beauty and the Beast script (1991) was written by Linda Woolverton with lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken. This script is labeled as the “First Draft.”

Beauty and the Beast was the first animated movie ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and remains the only animated movie to hold that honor from the period when there were only five best picture nominees.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-03-23T11:45:52+00:00 March 23rd, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

Reporters, Know These 3 Source Types? Tips for Interviewing With Ease

Most writers need to know how to conduct efficient interviews.

If interviewing is a major part of your freelance writing life, you’ve probably come across sources who have trouble putting their thoughts into words.

Once you’ve found a source for an article, and they’ve agreed to be interviewed, you have to get them to talk.

There are a number of reasons it can be hard to get someone to talk even though most people enjoy telling you about themselves. Some people are naturally shy. Some are more visually inclined than verbal; they can show you something wonderful, but have trouble talking about it. And most people, unless they’ve had public relations or marketing experience, are definitely not used to talking to the press.

In my experience, I’ve come across three types of interviewees that have the most difficulty lending their expertise to my stories. In fact, many of my sources fall into these categories. And I’ve come up with some techniques that help me draw them out.

1. The “Yep-Noper”

Yes. No. Yep. Uh-huh.

None of these responses qualify as quotes. And, aside from general expertise on a topic, an interviewer is primarily looking for quotes.

My two best tools for handling monosyllabic responders are these:

Ask for advice.

Play dumb. It’s the best way to get people to tell you things. Even if you know all about the current trends in outdoor water features, pretend you don’t.

Try asking these questions:

“What are your most popular outdoor fountains?”

“What materials are they made from?”

“Are all fountains freestanding or can you hang some on walls?”

“What do they look like?”

Ask about their customers

In my work writing for regional magazines, I talk to a lot of people at local businesses who aren’t used to speaking to the press.

They seem to be trying to tell me what I want to hear instead of what they actually think. That is, when they can think of anything to say. When questions about their work are leading nowhere, trying asking about their customers. In my experience, local business owners like talking about how well they serve their customers. That’s their bread and butter and usually the part of their jobs they find most satisfying.  

Try asking these questions:                                                                  

“Which styles of dining rooms tables are your customers buying?”

“How do your customers go about paying off credit card debt?”

“How do you help your customers pick out houseplants?”

“Have customers been buying more of this or more of that? Why do you think that is?”

2. The “Big Talker”

This interviewee poses the opposite problem of the “yep-noper.”

Big talkers don’t have a problem talking. Instead, they get off topic easily. You can’t get them to shut up so you can ask all your questions, and you might not be able to keep them on track.

While you appreciate their passion for what they do, you have a story to write. And if your story is about how to choose a college major, you don’t want a source going on about their very specific, highly academic research.

Here’s how to handle a big talker:

Try email first.

Email is best for these subjects. You ask certain questions. They give certain answers. Include “Anything you’d like to add” at the end to throw them a bone.

Guide them back gently.

“Big talkers” are usually excited and happy to have someone to talk to about about what excites them.

Say a professor is detailing a paper on a facet of cell research that is a response to another paper on that facet of cell research they recently presented at a conference for other cell researchers. But your story is a 300-word website story on the faculty-student connection at your university. You need to guide them back to the path and sometimes you’ll have to interrupt to do it.

Politely interrupt and ask something related both to what they’ve been saying and to your original topic.

Try asking these questions:    

“That sounds like a great conference. Did any students attend with you?”

“How do you feel experiences like these prepare students for their first jobs or grad school placements?”

Again, focusing on the population your expert serves will often get them back to talking about what’s important to the both of you.

3. The “Micromanager”

I recently interviewed a very bossy breast cancer survivor. She had an important message about breast cancer screenings for younger women. And she asked for a copy of the story before it went to print.

Yeah, no. We don’t do that.

To manage a micromanager:

Present the facts.

Instead of giving my interviewee a copy of her story before printing, I sent her a list of her quotes which were to be used in the story. I included a list of facts from the story as well. She changed several items. And that was that.

Let them talk.

Another way to manage a micromanager is to give them plenty of opportunities to have their say.

Without compromising your integrity, you can offer your source:

  • The opportunity to send you an email with anything they might’ve forgotten to say on the phone or in person but remembered later.
  • A summary of the major points you discussed in the interview.
  • A friendly ear. Most micromanaging interviewees are not really jerks. They’re just perfectionists that are concerned with what other people might think about what they say. Hear them out even if it annoys you. You never know what gems may be uncovered if you let your source spout off a bit.

Try asking a different variety of questions in your next interview and you’ll end the conversation with some usable quotes. You’ll also have a relationship with a source who will probably be happy to be interviewed again.  

How do you handle an interview that has derailed or hasn’t even gotten off the ground?

The post Reporters, Know These 3 Source Types? Tips for Interviewing With Ease appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:23+00:00 March 23rd, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |