Putting a New Spin on an Old Idea

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 24th Oct 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Tips

One of the constant challenges of writing is being relevant! With so much material available on the Internet it sometimes seems that it is impossible to be noticed, your quality original article versus all the noise, how can you make a difference?

The Challenge of the Internet

Google and other companies have massive servers that index everything that has ever been published on the Internet. This is not an index of everything that has ever been written, but it is getting close. For example "The Times" of London has been continuously published since 1785 and whilst it may not be the oldest newspaper published it certainly has a long and glorious history of publishing, it is actually possible to purchase a fully search-able archive of this newspaper dating all the way back the the first edition, but this information is not generally available on the Internet.

Most publicly available newspaper articles will generally date back to some time in the 1980's, because this is when most newspapers switched to some form of computer based publishing and it was relatively easy to put those articles on-line in the form of an electronic edition of a newspaper archive. Even going back 30 years we can be certain there there is a lot of material available about any subject from these archives alone, let alone the material posted on websites such as Wikinut, Triond, ExpertsColumn and personal blogs.

One of the challenges the Internet brings the writer is that fact that everything that has ever been written on-line before about a particular subject is visible to all, provided they apply the right search criteria. It is so easy to search that any writer could be tempted to search about a concept they are thinking of then, start compiling their article based upon the search results available - surely no-one would find out where the material is copied from, or would they?

Truth is it is easy to identify copies, even without using specialist plagiarism checkers, such as copyscape.

Comming up with a New Spin

Most writers tend to specialise in a particular niche area, they write about business, travel, health etc., and within any specialist focus it is certainly possible that a large number of ideas have been discussed to some extent, thus making the generation of a new, and original posts somewhat a challenge. Writers are driven by many motives, not all about the earning of the great dollar bill, the most noble of motives is being seen as an expert in the specific field and it is often that which drives people more than money.

So just how do you come up with a new spin on an old idea?

Here are a few thoughts:

  • Be unique
  • Flaunt your style
  • Stay relevant
  • Give it a new twist
  • Take the opposite view
  • Reverse roles
  • Add a new challenge
  • Exceed quality expectations
  • Going beyond previous limits

Uniqueness or Style

With some subjects is is difficult to be unique because there is so much information already available and almost any article finds itself rehashing old ideas and covering familiar ground. Yet often this is where a writer's style can help, perhaps they bring a unique way to challenge the reader or will give them access to the very latest research material.

Every writer will have a style that makes them stand out from others around them. Ask any two people to write a report presenting the news that their business lost $75 million this financial year and both will approach the challenge differently; one may be hard-hitting stressing certain facts about product sales and the poor state of the economy; the other may wish to stress how much better the company is performing versus its competitors. This is not an easy situation and the response will be listened to with critical ears by board members. Both may be factually correct, but it is individual style that makes the difference between the two reports.

The readers here may be specialist readers but they share a common desire that everyone has, to find answers to their problems in what they read, and this is where you should aim to make a difference.

Being Relevant

There is nothing worse than rehashing old ideas; that article you wrote last year may no longer be relevant, in truth technology has moved on; take for example the iPhone 4, what was once the cutting edge is now consigned to history thus it is no longer the latest - greatest - smartphone on the market despite the fact that it still has millions of users worldwide; people want to be romanced by the latest, greatest device on the market. Human society is forever changing and sometimes the contribution you wrote last week is irrelevant and so passe, yet at other times it is still relevant forty years or a hundred and forty years in the future.

Relevance is clearly quite a challenge. What can you do to make your contribution relevant?

New Twist/Opposite View

If you are writing about politics, for example, it can be easy to give an old idea a new twist. Look at it from a conservative standpoint instead of a liberal one, sometimes it is important to play devil's advocate even if simply to renew the faith you have in your ideals. This is about changing things up, you do not necessarily have to believe in the things you write as it is the role of the writer to make the reader think and sometimes you have to stir things up in order to make that happen, after-all you have broad shoulders and can brush off the criticism, besides the wise reader will understand your motives.

Calling the new iPhone 5 the worst thing since sliced bread will instantly attract attention and bring in readers, it is like the news headline screaming "Man Bites Bear" whether or not it is a fact matters little, it certainly gains attention; you then need to prove (or perhaps disprove) the proposition. The titles or headlines you use are vital in attracting readers; once you have their attention you must have a compelling story to tell, otherwise another article is just a click away.

This is not advocating the telling of lies, but sometimes you have to be creative and take your reader on a journey to the ultimate truth and this is where taking the opposite stance, or reversing roles, can often bring results - it is important to demonstrate what life will be like if a particular route is taken to its logical conclusion; you are leading to reader in a direction that enables them to make their own conclusion that the direction of travel is wrong and can lead to an undesirable conclusion. In some respects this is where writers like George Orwell were going in stories like "1984", they wanted to ensure this vision of the future never happened because they impacted right-thinking people to explain a vision so horrific that we would never let it happen. That is powerful thinking from a auspicious writer.

New Challenges/Beyond Limits

Sometimes it is necessary to take your readers on a different tack, rather like taking the plunge down river in a raft through the rapids, where every bump can bring with it the possibility of death, yet the thrill seeker feels more alive than they have been for years for having challenged death and won; the writer has a duty to take their reader on an adventure even when writing a factual piece. It is all about the journey, the route you take, and not necessarily the destination.

In some respects this is about going beyond the previous limits that have been set by anyone regarding the subject at hand. Think about this a good sized article will be between 500 and 700 words; get much beyond that and even the most avid reader can become bored; hit it right with three to five sub-sections then it always gives scope for expansion (or perhaps a new direction) in a later article.

The Power of Writing

What you have to say has much power, you can influence others greatly with your words and in this on-line world it is possible to reach further than ever before. You will have things you know well or are passionate about and that should always shine through in the things that you write. Put in a little extra effort and your presentation can go beyond all previous limits and exceed all your readers expectations, then they will come back for more.


Other articles you may find interesting:

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  • Wikinut is fun, we have a great community of writers who regularly talk to each other.
  • AND you get paid as well, you might not become a millionaire with on-line writing but its still nice to receive something into your PayPal account regularly.
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author avatar David Reinstein,LCSW
24th Oct 2012 (#)

As mentioned (quite often) in the Old Testament, the real power is the WORD.
On paper or online... the specific media probably matters less than the meaning of... the words.

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author avatar Retired
24th Oct 2012 (#)

Excellent and informative article, Peter. Quality star page!

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author avatar Clarence Schreiber
25th Oct 2012 (#)

An interesting article. Excellent information. Thank you.

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author avatar Buzz
25th Oct 2012 (#)

Valuable writing tips, Peter.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
25th Oct 2012 (#)

That was a superb piece of writing.
A short story is called a serendipitous fluke. Similarly an article also is a matter similar to it. Once we get an idfea, we should write about it in our own style. We can do some reseach for facts and figures.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
25th Oct 2012 (#)

Posting something worthwhile to catch the attention is always a challenge. Unique style is a plus point. Thought provoking - siva

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
31st Oct 2012 (#)

Brilliantly done. Thanks.

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author avatar Tranquilpen
12th Nov 2012 (#)

Thank you Peter, a great share.

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author avatar Val Mills
16th Feb 2013 (#)

I'm having an enjoyable evening catching up on many of the articles I'vr missed in my absence. Being unique in your writing is really a challenge. Being passionate about something certainly helps.

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