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December 18, 2008

Stories From the Classifieds

As I scour the newspaper for new writing ideas, I keep my eyes peeled for the interesting, the weird, the unusual. But there’s one newspaper section that I frequently skip that’s been brought to my attention as a good place to look for ideas: the classifieds. I found this article on Poynter Online. (By the way, this site is a great resource. It may be geared toward journalists, but don’t let that scare you away. Roy Peter Clark, one of my favorite writing teachers, along with Chip Scanlan, are two writing teachers at the Poynter Institute. But I digress.)

The section to look through is the Classifieds. Maybe you’re not finding what people did or cultural events, but you are finding out what people sell. Why did they sell it? What’s their story? Is a woman selling her husband’s things because of an affair? Has a solider died in Iraq? Maybe it’s quirky. How much would you pay for a grilled cheese sandwich with Christ’s face burned into the bread?

Besides the classifieds, what about Craigslist? Ebay? Propertyroom.com, the online police auction Web site?

The unusual may be staring you right in the face…and all you have to do is open your eyes.

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