The CSI Guide to Finding Your Next Killer Idea – A Guide for Bloggers

The CSI Guide to Finding Your Next Killer Idea – A Guide for Bloggers

You know how it is…

Your blog post is well overdue. You sense your readers are waiting, but you can’t come up with anything fresh to offer them.

You’ve been writing for so long about the same topics, you just can’t think of anything new to say. It’s kind of like you’ve reached the bottom of the well, and now all that’s coming up is mud.

To cap it all, when you do get a cool idea, something that sounds fun to write about, you look around and discover an A-lister just delivered the final word on it. Doh.

Frustrated, you decide to flip on the old boob tube and relax for a bit. Maybe inspiration will strike while you’re watching the latest episode of CSI…

Sounds unlikely, right?

Well, I would’ve thought so, too, but that’s exactly what I did the other night, and I noticed something surprising.

Everything You Need to Know about Finding Ideas

Generously distributed over network television schedules lies unexpected inspiration, even salvation.

CSI isn’t just about forensic experts examining hair, blood or fiber fragments. This show tells you everything you need to know to find killer content. You don’t even need to be in a forensic lab to use ace crime-solving techniques.

Because you see, great ideas don’t appear out of thin air. They’re found. You have to search for them the same way as a forensic expert searches for a killer.

Let’s go through a few examples, and I’ll show you what I mean.

Turn the World Upside Down

In the CSI world, what is presented is often not entirely what it seems.

A victim turns out to have committed crimes in a previous existence. A seemingly virtuous Samaritan has more to his agenda than first appears.

The team needs to flip think: to turn what seems to be evident upside down.

In fact, you could argue all innovators do the same thing. They become masters of flip thinking, habitually challenging what appears to be true and changing the world in ways none of us could’ve imagined.

Once upon a time, everyone in the computing industry believed their products needed to be, above all, powerful, even if that meant sacrificing elegance. Apple flipped this idea on its head, creating devices that aren’t quite as powerful as their competitors but are … well … beautiful. And they turned the world upside down.

So can you.

Take the sacred cows, common wisdom or even what many people want to be true and flip it, disarming and intriguing your readers as a result.

Ask ‘What if?’

“The thing that makes a fantasy great is the possibility it might come true. And when you lose that possibility it just… kinda… sucks.” Catherine Willows, CSI

Presented with fragments of evidence, the CSI crimes solvers often need to ask “what if?” and then come up with a possible scenario.

Here’s why:

Imagining possible scenarios is at the core of creative thinking. Not only when it comes to catching killers, but when you need to write that next killer blog post, too

For example, Chris Garrett asked, “What if we stopped looking for shortcuts and just did the hard work?” It resulted in one of the more popular posts on his blog.

Corbett Barr asked, “What if an awesome post is exponentially more valuable than a mediocre post?” 258 comments later, we can see the post was a smash hit.

That’s what happens when you force yourself to ask questions and think outside the box. It opens up all kinds of new ideas for you to consider and introduce to your readers.

Find the Backstory

A main task of the CSI squad is discovering what led up to a terrible crime. Knowing the “why” is just as important as knowing the “what.”

Writing works the same way.

If you can’t figure out what to write next, you’re probably bored. Not because the topic itself is boring, necessarily, but because you’ve lost touch with why you started writing.

To start fresh, you need to think back to why you started your blog. What inspired you? Whatever it was, it’s probably still there.

Go out and find it.

Zoom in on What’s Important

”There is always a clue.” Gil Grissom, CSI

CSI investigators don’t just examine a crime scene, take a few photos, and then make their decision on what happened. They look for tiny pieces of evidence like a blood speck or broken eyelash, and they zoom in with a microscope to discover entirely new information.

You can take the same strategy with your blog posts.

Sure, you’ve probably covered every major topic on your blog, but there are topics within those topics you can zoom in on, turning a small detail from one post into the focus of an entirely new one. It’s a way to continuously recycle the same topics without them ever becoming old.

Build On Your Evidence

“I tend not to believe people; they lie. The evidence never lies.” Gil Grissom, CSI

Ever get a comment from a reader saying they would love to hear more about a certain topic, but when you write about it, the post flops?

Happens all the time, right?

It’s not because your audience is lying to you, exactly. It’s because the interests of one reader don’t represent the interests of your entire audience.

Just as witnesses and suspects lie during an investigation, comments from your readers often misrepresent what your audience is really interested in. Sure, it’s valuable information, but you have to treat it with a certain amount of skepticism.

Rather than blindly writing posts about whatever your readers tell you they want, look at posts you’ve written on similar subjects and examine their stats to see how popular they were. The data will tell you whether or not you should write another post.

If posts on the topic have been popular in the past, then chances are they’ll be popular again. If every post you’ve written about the subject has flopped, on the other hand, then you probably shouldn’t post about it again, even if one or two of your readers are clamoring for it.

Scour Different Locations

CSI officers have to travel far and wide in pursuit of a suspect, piecing together evidence from multiple scenes to build an airtight case.

The same is true for finding killer ideas.

Online, it’s easy to fall into the habit of visiting the same websites, hearing the same ideas time and time again and wondering why you can’t think of anything fresh. But you’re not the problem! The problem is you’re only looking for evidence in a single crime scene.

To come up with original ideas, you need to branch out, reading blogs on entirely different topics with entirely different perspectives. Yes, it might be uncomfortable, and you might also have to work a bit to find something interesting, but once you do, you’ll have an entirely new source of inspiration for your blog posts.

Comb the Scene for the Freshest Evidence

Timing is critical.

On CSI, investigators need to arrive on scene within hours or even minutes to gather evidence before it degrades. They know that fresh evidence is often the most incriminating, so they have to move fast.

Makes sense, right?

What you might not realize is bloggers have to move fast, too. Yes, the problems your readers face probably stay the same, but the solutions to those problems are ever-changing. To stay current, you have to watch for new approaches and then bring those to your audience as quickly as possible.

For example, the standard advice for bloggers used to be to publish a short article every day. Recently though, new bloggers in the social media space like Derek Halpern and Glen Allsopp have flipped that advice, publishing much longer pieces every couple of weeks.

And their audiences have grown like crazy.

So, if you were going to write a blog post on the proper publishing schedule, you would be smart to write about that trend. In turn, your audience will love you for giving them the freshest information.

It’s a Whole New Game

Once upon a time, investigators used to live by their instincts. They followed hunches, kept an eye on suspicious characters, and staked out the bad guy to catch him in the act.

Not anymore.

These days, burly investigators in trench coats have been replaced by nerdy scientists in lab coats, and they’re more likely to get a black eye from poking themselves with a microscope than getting in a fight with a suspect. The game has changed, and the investigators who want to stay on the cutting edge have changed with it.

As writers, we have to make the same shift.

In the old days, great writing used to be about originality and thought and finding a unique voice in the midst of everyone else saying the same old stuff, and to a small extent, it still is. It’s also evolved though, making conversations between writers easier, allowing you to track what’s popular and what’s not in real time, and involving the reader as never before.

As a result, writing is much more external than it used to be. Yes, thinking is still important, but listening and watching and studying patterns is even more important, not because it replaces thought, but because it directs it, telling us exactly what to think about and where we should focus.

If we want to survive as writers, we have to make the shift. It can be disconcerting at first, even painful, but once you begin understanding exactly how to search the web for information, you’ll never be without good ideas ever again.

So, put on your lab coat. Search through the evidence. Study it more closely than you ever have before.

Great ideas are out there, just waiting to be discovered, and after reading this post, you know have all the tools to discover them.

So go for it.

Your audience is counting on you.

About the Author: Want to unleash your inner creative genius? Head over to Mrs. Motivator, where Pippa Davies writes about do-it-yourself business psychology.


  1. Cathy Presland
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 01:50:14

    This is such fun to read. I know I find my inspiration in the most surprising places as well. Usually for me it’s watching tennis – I have a nice post in draft with an analogy between Maria Sharapova and staying in action…

    And who doesn’t sometimes feel like it’s all been said before? Great post!


  2. Jack Price
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 05:32:26

    “Zoom in on what’s important” is a great technique. Following a clue can uncover a smidgen of truth in a way that big-picture thinking can’t.

  3. Pippa Davies
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 02:50:00

    Thanks Cathy – and I can’t help thinking that this new context for us to write in is really going to favour smart writers. The ones who are imaginative enough to take on different roles and then play with their thinking and powers of analysis.

    We have unprecedented access to readers’ thoughts, preferences and quibbles – how brilliant is that!

    Look forward to your tennis post – game,set and match.

  4. Jo Warwick
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 05:59:36

    Hey, loved the analogy and great suggestions for techniques
    I think it’s so important to be curious and remember to read blogs outside
    Of niche is important to be inspired, otherwise you end up saying the same thing
    As everyone else … like to hope there is still some space for using your instinct, as well as facts ..

  5. Marianne Wheelaghan (@MWheelaghan)
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 03:04:10

    Lots of food for thought, thanks! 🙂

  6. Pippa Davies
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 03:20:58

    Marianne , thanks and good to know about your courses in the UK.

  7. Deb Lamb
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 05:16:49

    What a great post with some very intriguing ideas. As bloggers and website owners, I think we all struggle with what to write, but more than that, writing what will get reaction from our readers is crucial. That is the hard part of it all. I love your ideas and the way you have it all broke down. Thank you!!

    Deb 🙂

  8. Amandah
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 05:23:49

    Great post! I find my inspiration by working out, reading and listening to music. I also find ideas from my every day life. In fact, I’ve written a few short films based on my life experiences. I have notebooks and ‘text’ files filled with ideas.

  9. jared akers
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 05:26:57

    Great stuff. The single question, “what if?” creates all sorts of possibilities alone. I can see where this will also help with topics for podcasts as well. Thanks!

  10. Tracey Rissik
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 05:38:36

    I just love the analogies – thanks for a really interesting take on blogging! I don’t do much blogging myself (too busy creating websites!) but this will be really useful for my clients & subscribers who struggle with inspiration for their blogging…

    best wishes
    Tracey – CSI fan 🙂

  11. Kimberly Houston
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 05:55:17

    This article is uber-helpful. I talk to people all the time about how to generate ideas for blog posts, because that’s what small biz owners I work with feel most challenged by with respect to blogging — coming up with topic ideas on a consistent basis. I will for sure share this article with my my crowd on FB and Twitter. 🙂

    I totally agree that inspiration can be found in the most unlikely places! I get ideas for blog topics from everything I consume — magazines, books, tv, blogs, conversations with friends, the news, etc., etc.

    And even though tv can be a terrible, terrible drug, 😉 it can also provide lots of ideas for killer blog content. Recently I’ve gotten ideas from VH1 Behind the Music, shows on Bravo, and even the History Channel. My “Ideas File” doc is a mile long, with more ideas than I could cover the rest of the year.

    Absolutely love the way you applied the CSI framework to this topic, great stuff!

  12. Amit Amin
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 06:01:28

    Perhaps it’s because I’ve only been blogging for a few months, but my list of post ideas has been growing exponentially faster than I’ve been writing them. It may also be because I spend an hour or two every day reading research papers in my field, and spend at least 10-20 hours on each post.

    • Lewis Saka
      Nov 23, 2012 @ 05:41:47

      10-20 hours on a posts – that’s dedication!

  13. Kellie Davis
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 06:11:03

    Thank you for this! I always find that the posts I write from my gut… the ones that I am afraid to post because they are too personal or passionate… those are the ones that go viral. I guess if I feel it in my gut, then my readers do as well.

  14. David
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 06:14:50

    Hi Pippa,

    I am a huge fund of CSI whether its Las Vegas or Miami.
    Not only are the stories ever so different but so are the solutions.

    I am starting a personal blog soon and in fact this particular blog post has given me a super idea on getting really cool content from all over the place.
    Thanks for sharing this, its very helpful!

    (hmmm guess its time to go watch some CSI Miami reruns…) 😉

  15. Debbie@happymaker
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 06:43:03

    Wow Pippa
    This gives writing a whole new look and you are right. This is very true “great ideas don’t appear out of thin air. They’re found. ”

    I like the what if’s, it can really make a conversation. Reasonlly I was reading a blog about children. The blogger mkes a statement about children being treated like adults these days instead of like kids. Even though that is not what the blog is about. I have decide to see if I can give her a guest blog post using her words, should I say. Hope it works.

    Thanks for giving me another way of finding great ideas for post. Make sense too!

  16. jennifer blanchard
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 06:51:52

    Great post! I love the idea of asking “what if” questions. I do that a lot when I’m developing fiction stories, but I never thought to use it for my blog posts. Definitely going to try it.

  17. Pippa Davies
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 06:54:43

    Thanks so much for these great comments and useful ideas. Great evidence here that the more you engage with blogging, the more creative you become at it.

    The History Channel is a grand idea, so many stories there – indeed maybe someone will combine the two and make CSI Historic – now there’s an idea.

    Good luck for your sleuthing.

  18. Nancy Roe
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 06:58:21

    I love reading articles that make me stop and think. Ponder. Wonder about all the possibilities. Thanks!

  19. CW
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 07:26:38

    Some great points you’ve made. I am in this exact same rut, so thank you for your words.

  20. Pippa Davies
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 08:49:51

    It’s a pleasure.Just coming up to my blog’s 2nd birthday – sometimes it feels like a duty, but mostly fun – and a chance to sort out thoughts and see if others think the same.

    Find Jon and Copyblogger’s advice excellent – and isn’t this communication channel we’re all in, life – enhancing?

  21. Adeline
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 09:16:36

    I’m a huge fan of crime dramas, and yes, if you look at things through the eyes of a forensic investigator, you tend to go through certain things more carefully and ask a whole lot of questions. I’ve actually tried this approach and it has definitely helped me give my readers something new in an otherwise saturated niche.

  22. Leanne Regalla | Make Creativity Pay
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 09:44:31

    Hi Pippa!

    Great ideas here… I feel a bit at a disadvantage because I NEVER watch TV! 😉 (I do see CSI once in a while if I’m at a friend’s house.)

    Here’s a tip from songwriters that might help your readers also – especially those business owners who don’t necessarily always think like we writers do.

    Inspiration can and does strike anytime, anywhere. So our job is to always have some recording device close at hand at all times. Whether it’s your phone, iPad, Evernote, a good old fashioned notebook by the bed – respect the muses when they come and capture that inspiration somewhere central.

    When you start feeling stuck, you can look over these files and lists.

    Songwriters also have reserve arsenals like songwriters’ dictionaries for rhyming & alliteration and books called “1001 Songwriting Ideas”. I think it’s a good idea for bloggers to pick these up. You might not be gushing about how “your lover done you wrong” – but you can take the scenarios and modify them for your audience’s situations for sure! AND use the rhyming dictionary to help come up with killer headlines. 😉

  23. Beth Hood
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 10:04:59

    Thanks Pippa! I really appreciated you talking about the new paradigm of writing longer but higher quality posts. I think one of the things that has been stopping me from really going full guns with my blogs is the idea that I have to produce something every day or every couple days, so rather than even getting one post out every two weeks, I get paralyzed and don’t put out anything. Will certainly share this post with my web clients as well, to help them get creative with their blogs. Aloha!

  24. Pippa Davies
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 10:20:29

    Songwriters… excellent idea. Dylan, Paul Simon, Lucinda Williams and Jack White…they all do it for me. Thanks for the advice.

    And the longer posts that Jon is featuring here give readers a lot of value, don’t they?

    Appreciate your sharing.

  25. DONNA
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 10:38:33

    I love the analogies you’ve made solving a crime and finding ideas. You hooked me into reading more when you said that ideas don’t appear out of thin air; they’re found. I never thought of it that way … thanks for the inspiration! Lots of good ideas here.

  26. Chris Bolton
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 14:20:53

    Great post Pippa,
    Like the advice about zooming in on what’s important and look for “topics within topics”.
    At the end of my first year of blogging I’ve churned out almost 70 posts which are almost like th summary of ‘everything I know’.
    Re-visiting these to look for the topics within topics and “continuously recycle without ever becoming old” is great advice.

  27. SuzanneG
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 16:38:59

    I love the comparison of the writer’s task to finding the clues on CSI. Other writers have actually laughed at me when I’ve used popular shows to illustrate points I want to make about story structure. We sometimes fail to remember, these scripted shows arrive on our screen via the words of writers who have nailed the process.

    “What if” is my favorite tool… I hesitate to tell you every place and circumstance that phrase has popped into my head, appropriate place and time or not.

  28. Brendon Held
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 16:47:47

    Pippa, I thoroughly enjoyed your article, and found it not only inspirational, but pretty clever too!

    And I also got a kick out of seeing Glen mentioned… I have been a huge ViperChill fan for as long as I can remember, and I’m glad his unique style and approach to blogging is being recognized by other authorities like yourself.

  29. Joe Karl
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 19:35:48

    lol excellent article I love your style of writing well done thanks for the great read

  30. Pippa Davies
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 22:52:50

    Thanks Donna, Chris, Suzanne, Brendon and Joe for your comments and contributions.

    You made me think about something I notice a lot online – bloggers flitting from topic to topic without what looks like any core ballast as it were, in content.

    But they’ve almost certainly got a topic they love deeply that initially attracted them to blogging.

    And rather than repurposing this core subject by going deeper in – and into higher definition – they sense they’d better swim with the tide, so we get ‘same old’.

    Whereas the search for higher definition is exciting for us and our readers.

    So…we’d better get ready for our close-ups, Mr DeMille.

    And who, please, is going to write a post on’The best three opening words for a post’…?!?

  31. Jan Schochet
    Aug 09, 2012 @ 04:41:35

    Wow Pippa,
    I just knew watching Grissom was going to prove purposeful some day. Thanks for the heads up about that.

    Seriously, there is so much here that I’m going to implement immediately. Particularly the “what if,” which I’m always asking anyway and the going deeper. So wise.

    The interest always is in the “differently considered” point of view and in the details.

    I’m not sure, though, that for writers who are just beginning, writing at the intervals that Derek and Jon do would work for them. I always tell my clients to definitely not post every day or more than once a week.

    But I’m thinking that Derek and Jon are so successful with scarcer posts because they’ve built up a fan base already. And of course writing incredible content is what makes them popular, not the frequency.

    Your ideas here will definitely help me to dig deeper for better content. Thanks.

  32. Christine Rich Hanson
    Aug 09, 2012 @ 07:43:54

    Interesting point Pippa to dig deeper on a topic into the underbelly! As a new blogger, I will keep that in mind.

    I am still experimenting with finding a connection to how I want to do things vs how everyone else does them. I’m playing around with some ideas that may see the light of the Internet.

    And so true about what you said that folks may not know what their real issue is when they ask a question. I blog about parenting, and that is an example where parents are off the issue 99.9% of the time.

  33. Pippa Davies
    Aug 09, 2012 @ 07:50:13

    You’ve made me think here, Jan and Christine. Maybe there’s a path with writing where you start off and your inner critic keeps you inhibited, so daily practice is most useful. Even if your musings don’t reach the public…

    And then when you’re a bit more seasoned, you can’t wait to cover the screen with words, so you can let your inner critic out for her/his craved exercise!

    Thanks for the comments and good wishes.

  34. Jenn
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 08:45:27

    Thank you for this post. I tend to read the same topic over and over in a certain blog community and wonder if it was a mass email sent to them to write on the topic, I can see now they were just getting topics off one another. I haven’t been too tempted by this as I want to write on original content (well as original as a blog post can be, with so many out there). But then again, these blogs with the same topics for posts are getting WAY MORE readers than mine. Hmmmm…. so confused as to how to get more readers. Any guidance is appreciated : )

  35. Elizabeth Cottrell
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 06:07:05

    Terrific analogy, Jon. Thinking about the mindset shift to having a conversation will really helpl “warm up” my writing. I have a tendency to being utilitarian and not engaging enough. James Chartrand’s course really helped me get better, but it’s a work in progress.

    Your recent hacking experience really stinks, and I’m sorry you had to go through it. Looking forward to your “lessons learned” article.

  36. gail
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 07:44:36

    Wow, Pippa, aren’t we fortunate that your post made it through the malware? Your post focuses on blog writing yet naturally transfers to making meaningful, memorable connections in most creative endeavors. Your writing engages,stimulates and reminds us that the well of compelling ideas is more accessible, even more irresistible, than we think.

  37. Pippa Davies
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 08:10:18

    Well thanks Gail and yes, having been in quarantine this post is hanging on in here…

    It sounds like you’ve heard from Jon that he is going to write something constructive from the whole incident, a guide to keeping our own blogs secure.

    Thanks for your comments – you made me feel bouncy!

  38. Jenn
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 11:43:30

    Great advice, thank you!

  39. Pippa Davies
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 09:20:36

    Hi Jenn

    Sometimes it helps to think: ‘I’m in this specific community, all we bloggers are talking about these particular subjects but here’s a fresh and distinctive take I can contribute to the conversation’… So you give readers the subjects they love – but from an unexpected angle.

    And when your take is made, then headline hack it.

    Good luck.

  40. Thought Reach
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 09:40:48

    Excellent article. I’m glad to see that those 2 bloggers who write really long posts are breaking the mold.

  41. Pippa Davies
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 10:36:45

    Yes, good to have useful substance and something to refer back to. Thanks, Thought Reach.

  42. david
    Aug 16, 2012 @ 06:44:16

    nice angle on creating fresh and interesting content.

    I haven’t watched CSI – ever in fact, but it sounds like it has truly been inspirational to you in a number of ways.

    maybe I should tune in?

  43. Pippa Davies
    Aug 16, 2012 @ 08:54:11

    Why not, David… but warn you, it’s compulsive…

  44. Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 07:13:40

    This is definitely one of the deepest, most articulate and actionable looks at “coming up with ideas” I’ve seen, Pippa.

    Props to you 🙂

    And I suppose I do all those things, but I’ve been doin’ ’em since I was little, and don’t even notice it.


  45. Pippa Davies
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 10:41:48

    Thanks Jason – and sound like you’re a lucky guy…

  46. Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 12:10:35

    Well, we all have our gifts, Pippa 😀 I know I feel lucky, but — there were other things I didn’t do so well – and I ended up homeless, jailed, possessionless, betrayed, and more… so … wanna trade?

    Also, I’d like to thank you so much! I’ve left a number of what I feel are insightful comments on BBT, and this feels like the first time I’ve gotten a reply!

    You rock! 😀

  47. Chick J
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 16:35:50

    I was one of the people who tried to access your site. I think you for explaining what happen. Just makes me feel there is a real person out there. I am sure you won’t let this happen again.

  48. Pippa Davies
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 23:56:56

    Hi Chick, Jon is going to write a guide to blog security following this incident – so something positive coming out of it! all best to you.

  49. Elisa
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 12:45:51

    It is refreshing to read a blog that’s both entertaining and full of information. I’m one of CSI’s biggest fans and love how you have used the set up of a CSI episode to get your points across – and I know all the quotes!It’s given me loads of tips on writing my own blog. Thank you, and will you write one around House M.D next?:)

  50. Pippa Davies
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 23:51:37

    Hi Elisa

    It sounds like this post was meant entirely for you! Thanks for the comment and will get to thinking about the good doctor…

  51. daveM
    Sep 23, 2012 @ 03:10:33

    Wow, as soon as I started to read about CSI and your application as to how to look for causes, it was like a lightbulb going on. Topics and content are sometimes a struggle, as soon as I read this…. ideas started to flow… haha What a brilliant idea you passed on to the readers.!!
    Thanks so much

  52. Pippa Davies
    Sep 23, 2012 @ 04:25:27

    Thanks Dave – yes, lightbulb moments are what the web is all about, I hope

  53. Vlad Blagojevic
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 04:57:48

    Hey Jon,

    Holy smokes, you write well 🙂 This just made my writing toolbox.

    Here’s another tip, if you don’t mind: Interview your Suspects and Listen to What They are not Saying

    Good agents and detectives know how interview their suspects. They know what kind of questions to ask. But more importantly, they know how to listen. And it is by carefully observing, and listening to what the suspect does not say, that they find their major clues.

    You audience is where you’ll find a wealth of ideas.

    But don’t ask them what to write. Don’t expect them to come up with fresh, ready-to-be-written, will-hit-a-100-retweets headline.

    That’s your job.

    Ask them where it hurts. Ask them “What is your biggest fear or frustration”, or let them ask you their top questions.

    You may be frustrated with what you get back. But don’t just gloss over it. Print it out, read it before bed, and when you wake up. Again and again. Look for patterns. Get into their head.

    After a while, the ideas will start emerging.

    Thanks again for the great post!


    • Vlad Blagojevic
      Oct 03, 2012 @ 05:14:17

      Oops, sorry, I meant Pippa 🙂

  54. Pippa Davies
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 00:40:41

    Hi Vlad

    Thanks for your comment – and thrilled about you thinking it was Jon (who steered this post, considerably).

    An excellent point you make here. It’s often the strongest feelings we have that we have most difficulty articulating. And yes, good detectives are ace at observing and analyzing
    the non-verbals.

    Thanks for this fine contribution.

  55. Stan Eigi
    Jan 12, 2014 @ 06:43:16

    First, I never thought of using CSI like that. I like the show, but I never thought we could apply their techniques in writing. Second, I think it’s a great article at least because it uses a very popular TV show as a reference.But to think about it, it actually makes sense if you leave the CS behind and look into I only. Thank you for such an outside-the-box article.

  56. Philippa Davies
    Jan 13, 2014 @ 11:28:49

    And thanks to you Stan for such inside-this-site appreciation… Also thanks to everyone for the pingbacks above – kind of you and valued.