Writing the story
Download Writing the story...
Beyond the inverted pyramid
Story structure Giving an overall shape to writing • The martini glass o
Use for: Crimes. Disasters. Dramatic stories.
The lead Key facts in invertedpyramid form Chronology of events Kicker
Story structure Giving an overall shape to writing • The kabob Also called Wall Street Journal formula or the Circle. o Use for: Trends. Events where you want to show actual people. o
Anecdote Nut graf Meat Meat Meat Anecdote
The world of features
10 • • • • •
Popular feature stories
Personality profile Human-interest story Color story Backgrounder Trend story
• • • • •
Reaction piece Flashback How-to Consumer guide Personal narrative
Which way to write it? “Hard” news, “soft” news • Relative terms that describe topic and treatment of story. Expect serious, timely events to be written in inverted-pyramid style. o Items that are less urgent or somber make up “soft” news. o
Feature style Some stories require a livelier, looser, more literary voice • Tom Wolfe dubbed it “New Journalism.” o o
Realistic dialogue. Vivid reconstruction of scenes.
Viewed through the eyes of the characters. o Recording everyday details. o
Feature style Successful feature writers… • Helpful tips Write tightly. Vary sentence structure. o Match treatment to topic. o Don’t overdo. o Avoid 1st person. o o
Stay objective. Learn shorthand or use a tape recorder. o Remember editors have strong opinions. o Read. o o
Writing profiles Good profiles reveal feelings, attitudes, habits and mannerisms • How to research and write successful profiles o o o
Solicit your subject’s support. o Follow up with interviews Interview and observe. and research. Find your focus. o Structure your story.
Writing profiles Sample story structures for profiles • Anecdotal lead o
Engaging, revealing small story to lure readers in
• Nut graf o
Summarizes why this person matters now
• Scene #1 o
Observe subject in action using dialog, details, descriptions
• Chronology o
Recap of subject’s past
Special leads • A narrative, or anecdotal, lead draws a reader into the story by putting them in the middle of the action. • Observation is a key reporting element for this kind of lead. • Sentences remain clear and somewhat terse, but there’s more room for evocative writing.
A narrative lead • From the Daily Nebraskan at the University of Nebraska: A red bandanna covers his long, brown hair. Blue sunglasses hide his eyes. Tattoos cover his arms. Lowell peers out over a ragged beard and waves three of his darkskinned children from the room as he settles cross-legged on a couch. A partially dismantled Honda 750 engine sits next to the chair across from the couch. “I’ve always been a biker,” Lowell says. He points to a lifesized poster on the wall. It’s a smiling Bobby Lowell at 5, posing in a slightly too-large black leather jacket.
Special leads • Even when you junk the inverted pyramid, you still need a “nut graph.” Tell your reader why they should care about the story – and keep reading.
• http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2010/09/26/AR201009 2603403.html?hpid=newswell
Special leads • When using a narrative/anecdotal style, structure your story to give the maximum impact. • Paint a picture with your words, but don’t be schmaltzy.
Special leads •
From the Orlando Sentinel:
WASHINGTON -- One by one, they are being laid to rest in the shadow of the building where they perished. The charred Pentagon looms in the background. A Navy Ceremonial Honor Guard stands over caskets. A bugler plays taps with an aching slowness. Thousands of white grave-markers stretch in every direction as three quick rifle volleys break the silence. Wives and children and mothers and fathers receive flags and hugs from officers in spotless dress uniforms. At Arlington National Cemetery, it's time to bury the dead of yet another war -- an almost unimaginable conflict fought with box cutters and commercial airliners. On U.S. soil. At Arlington, there are 25 funerals scheduled already, and there will be more. Of the 189 people buried inside the Pentagon when a hijacked Boeing 757 airliner hit the building's southwest side on Sept. 11, 50 were soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines. So they are brought here -- to a patch of open space that will forever tie them to the building where they worked and died.
Special leads •
From the Baltimore Sun:
WASHINGTON - Sen. Arlen Specter is, by any definition, a survivor. Brain tumors. Heart surgery. Primaries and general elections, sometimes when the pundits predicted defeat. And now, Hodgkin's disease, on the eve of the moment he's waited for all his political life - a chance to gavel the Senate Judiciary Committee to order as it considers the nominee to be the next Supreme Court justice. Specter's head is nearly bald these days. He keeps a tissue close at hand, to dab at his watery eyes and runny nose. They are symptoms of the chemotherapy he receives every other Friday, a regimen that will end this month. But at 75, the Pennsylvania Republican's will seems strong - and his famously agile legal mind appears raring to go. "I'm ready," he said last week. Nobody who knows him doubts it. "He's playing for the ages now, isn't he?" said Philadelphia attorney Arthur Makadon, a longtime friend.
Writing the story • Write from the first. • Write after each interview.
• Rewrite each time. • Plan your ending. • Save often, print frequently.