A Quick Guide to Generating Yearbook Story Ideas

The thought of filling a yearbook with content can be daunting: All those pages! All that blank space! Never fear, because great story ideas are hiding in plain sight, pretty much everywhere you look. Once you’ve got a few basic ideas swirling around, check out our post on story development to help you start fleshing those ideas out.

Listen & learn: One of the easiest ways to start drumming up story ideas is to simply stop talking, and start paying attention to what everyone around you is saying (whether they’re saying it to you, or not—and no, this doesn’t mean you should eavesdrop!). Knowing what’s on the minds of your peers will give you an understanding of the kinds of things they’re interested in, and things you hear again and again or things you’ve never heard before that you want to hear more about are both great sources of inspiration.

Talk—to everyone: You’ve been such a good listener—don’t forget talking! Asking questions is another great way to come up with ideas, and the questions can be as vague as “Are you going to the game this weekend?” or as specific as “What did you think about that assignment in Ms. Lewis’s class last week?” This is another way to take the temperature of the student body, and to learn more about what they’re interested in. Bonus: something totally OT may end up sparking a fantastic idea.

Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm: This one sounds pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to do it. Even the most basic, topical idea (for example: “food”) can lead to a brilliant and innovative story. Look over our topics list, highlight a couple that interest you, and invite your yearbook team to spend ten minutes free-associating on it. Narrow down your favorite responses and see if you can make a story out of one.

Think visually: If it’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, maybe your next great idea will come from an image rather than a conversation. While it’s essential to think about art and photography to go with every story, a lot of times the story comes first. Try thinking backwards: Look for something that would make for a stunning image, and see what kind of story you can build around it.

Check the calendar: The school year is jam-packed with events and activities, and chances are everyone in your school is either participating in, attending, or curious about each of them. See what’s going on, and then go check it out. These are usually great photo-ops, too.

Look for gaps: Once you’ve got a good slate of stories planned out, ask yourself who or what might be missing. A complete yearbook includes coverage of absolutely everyone—twice, if possible—so it’s important to make sure there aren’t any classes, clubs, sports, activities, or people left out of your book. If you’re struggling to complete your ladder, instead of racking your brain for wild new ideas, first see if there are any gaps that need to be filled.