Is there a cool new look in women's fall fashions? A website or tech gadget that everyone's going nuts over? An indy band that's attracted a cult following? A show on an obscure cable channel that's suddenly hot? These are the kinds of things that trend stories zero in on.
So here are some tips for producing way-cool trend stories.
Make it Current: A good trend writer has her finger on the pulse of contemporary life and culture. And trend stories should focus on what's new and, obviously, trendy. But there's nothing worse than a trend story that's out of date.
So when you're fishing for ideas for trend pieces, make sure they're fresh. Example: A story about the Facebook craze would have been fresh in 2004 or 2005. Now it's old news.
Find What's Buzzworthy: To find the latest trends you'll need to do some old-fashioned reporting. Go online and check out what people are talking about on social networking sites. Visit a local college campus to see what's up. The object is to track down whatever it is that's generating a buzz at the moment.
Keep it Fun: Trend stories are generally meant to be light reading. So write them that way. Unless you're dealing with a serious topic (sexting among teens might be an example), set seriousness aside and make your story one people will want to read.
Keep it Short: That investigative piece you're working on might need to run 1,500 words, but a trend story should be on the short side. Keep it tight, light and bright.
Make Sure it's Real: Journalists are sometimes derided for writing stories about trends that, well, aren't really trends. So make sure whatever you're writing about is real and not the figment of someone's imagination or something only a handful of people are doing.