When I first began to write, I wondered how to come up with story ideas. My friend and fellow writer Sue Careless patiently explained that story ideas were “everywhere!” If you walk by a store window and look at the merchandise, she said, there is a story not just about what is for sale, but about who created the display and how they did it. Who is the window dresser? How do they do what they do? Why do they do it? Where did they get their cool stuff?
I remembered Sue’s advice when I read “Men of the cloth: outfitting popes for two centuries” in The Globe and Mail. The story, a mini-profile of the family owned company where popes get many of their vestments (since 1789!), is a great example of one of the many stories that are within a Story.
It’s a spin-off and a peeling back of the story onion to see what is inside. The Big Story, of course, is who is coming down the pipe as the new pope. But a freelancer who wants to be published often and widely will dig down and find the spin-offs. The story describes the shop windows where vestments hang in three different sizes, ready for the small, medium or large pope to choose which one he wants.
Like a lot of great stories, I bet this one started with: “I wonder….” and look where it ended up. On the front page of The Globe and Mail.