The anniversary of an historic event makes an excellent subject to write about. Anniversary articles are easy to write, are always in demand, and there’s a never-ending supply of fresh material, including notable events, discoveries, inventions, births and deaths.
So here are some top tips to help you on your way to success:
- Choose a round number for your anniversary article – the 25th, 50th, 60th, 75th, 100th, 150th or 200th for example. It’s unlikely that anyone will be interested in reading about the 48th anniversary of anything.
- Double check and triple check the date you have chosen. You don’t want to give false information in your article, and you certainly don’t want to waste time writing it only to discover that the date was wrong or the facts were incorrect.
- You need to find a reliable source of information. Go back to the original source wherever possible. Don’t rely on encyclopaedias, because even the most reputable ones sometimes get it wrong. The internet abounds with incorrect dates and misinformation, and certainly can’t be trusted – only use it in conjunction with more reliable sources.
- Good sources of information include company histories, patent applications, biographies, official record books, graves, newspaper archives, obituaries, records of births and deaths, and so on. Most of these are available online.
- Most editors will be looking for something original. They don’t want to see yet another summary of a person’s life, or a potted history and timeline of an event. They can probably write those in-house anyway, using their own staff writers. That’s not to say you shouldn’t write these articles – you might do very well with them. But it’s also worth trying something different, or more compelling, or seeing if you can come up with a new angle.
- Try picturing the event through the eyes of someone who was (or might have been) there at the time. Or think about how different the world would have been if the person in question hadn’t been born or had done something else. What if the event hadn’t happened, or if it had happened in a different way, or in a different time or place?
- If you’re writing about a person, don’t focus solely on their list of accomplishments; find out about the other things that went on in their life: problems encountered and overcome, interests, hobbies, associations, relatives and relationships, fans, and so on. And perhaps see if you can tie some of that extra information into one of your own areas of special interest. You probably already read specialist and trade publications or visit websites dedicated to that subject, so that might make a good market for your work.
- You need to start work well in advance of the anniversary, so that your finished piece of writing is published at exactly the right time. And you need to allow enough time for research, editing and submission as well as the writing. Most magazines work several months in advance, and if you’re writing for the stage or screen you might need to have your script ready more than a year before the anniversary occurs.
- If you haven’t written much before, or have never had anything published, try using the anniversary as a starting point and write a letter about it to the editor of your local newspaper or your favorite magazine. Keep trying until you’ve achieved the coveted ‘star letter’ slot if they have one. Then you can move on to other things such as short articles.
- Don’t limit yourself to printed publications. There are plenty of online publications that need writers – and some will even pay you. And don’t limit yourself to your own country – there’s a whole world out there that’s interested in what you have to say.
Anniversaries are abundant, in-demand, and relatively easy to research and write about. They can inspire many different types of writing, including news reports for television, radio and the web; blogs; newspaper and magazine articles; short stories; novels; essays; stage plays; screenplays; poems; jokes; nonfiction books; guidebooks; leaflets and pamphlets; biographies; and many more.
For a ready source of historic anniversaries to write about, try the Date-A-Base Book series from ideas4writers. Each annual edition lists hundreds of notable anniversaries that will occur during that year, together with brief descriptions. The books are specially formatted for ease of use, and every date has been cross-checked for accuracy. You’ll find full details and sample chapters from the current editions at www.ideas4writers.co.uk/books/date-a-base
Dave Haslett, ideas4writers, www.ideas4writers.co.uk