Structuring Storiesto Hold Reader Interest Lizabeth A. Walsh, MJE
Why choose a structure?Structure can be a huge help for a staff… Provides a framework for young writers Makes writing easier because it becomes routine Helps determine design because word count remains approximately the same t/o Gives advisers & editors a checklist of “look fors” Creates voice for a publication
Frameworks that work Wall Street Journal’s anecdotal lede New York Times’s lede-quote-transition-conclusion
WSJ (anecdotal lede) pieceThis is what Heather Hill eats: French fries, pasta with butter or marinara sauce, vegetarian pizza, cooked broccoli, corn on the cob and cakes and cookies without nuts.And what she doesnt eat? Pretty much anything else.Ms. Hill is what you might call a picky eater. But she isnt a child. Shes a 39-year-old mother of three who runs her own business in Raleigh, N.C. She says she is unable to eat other foods. "When I was younger it was cute," Ms. Hill says. "Now its embarrassing.”
People like Ms. Hill have long puzzled cliniciansand medical experts because their behaviors dontfit the definition of a traditional eating disorder, inwhich people aim to achieve a certain body weight.But picky eaters diets can be so limited that theirfood preferences interfere with their social andprofessional relationships, which is one of thehallmarks of a true disorder. Ms. Hill says she liesto her friends about what she eats and avoidsparties and business lunches. And although shetries to hide her pickiness from her children, shefrequently worries they will acquire her eatinghabits.
BRAINSTORM…What stories could you tell using this anecdotallede format? oHow a player follows superstitious behavior oHow a student preps for the ACT/SAT oHow a musician prepares for a concert oHow a teacher presents a lesson oHow an administrator deals with conflict
Practice session…Choice 1: Use a story from last year’s book and re-think it, using the anecdotal lede. Develop the approach and tell the story that would have been there- if only you had thought about it that way.Choice 2: Create a story you believe should be covered in this year’s book. Use a situation with which you are familiar and begin to craft the story by showing (not telling) the reader what you want to share (vivid verbs, clear imagery).
When is an anecdotal lede best? Feature pieces rather than new or breaking news events In-depth reporting with space to not only tell the story, but present additional related information Yearbook stories that have appeal to many by reporting on the few
NYT (quote-transition) pieceDwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have chosen to become teammates in Miami, sparking a power shift that could turn spectacular if LeBron James- the greatest N.B.A. free agent of them all- decides to join them.Wade and Bosh made their announcement together in a live interview on ESPN early Wednesday afternoon. Wade, a 28- year-old guard, and Bosh, a 26-year-old power forward, were to of the most coveted players in the heralded 2010 free agent class. They are also close friends and spoke throughout the process about joining forces somewhere. They chose Miami, where Wade has placed his entire seven-year career. Bosh has played his seven previous seasons for the Toronto Raptors.
Quote graf, transition quote graf“I’m joining Mr. Wade in Miami,” Bosh, smiling widely, told ESPN via satellite.Wade, also interviewed by satellite, but from a different location, called Bosh’s decision “just an unbelievable opportunity for me to play with someone of his caliber.”
BRAINSTORM…What stories could you tell using this quote-transition (summary lede) format? •Winning a big game in the season •Change in policy or schedule •Earning a position in playoffs, All-State, etc. •School royalty election results •Any newsworthy event that happens during the year
Practice session…Choice 1: Use a story from last year’s book and re-think it, using the quote-transition w/ summary lede. Develop the approach and tell the story that would have been there- if only you had thought about it that way.Choice 2: Create a story you believe should be covered in this year’s book. Use a situation with which you are familiar and begin to craft the story by showing (not telling) the reader what you want to share (vivid verbs, clear imagery).
When is a quote-transition with summary lede best? Forreporting events that have multiple people who can provide their own perspectives on how it happened Forcapturing a historical occasion and the details that were important Forjust about any yearbook story on an event- not necessarily a person
Good readers make good writers.Read oRead •Read
Coverage philosophy Who will you cover in the yearbook? Why will you cover them? How will you tell their stories? What will you do to make them appealing to your audience? When will you gather information and input? Where will you look for ideas and input for future editions?
Drawbacks to structureRedundancy…oWatch your writing staff and help them selectdifferent ledes and different structures for theopening paragraphs.oRead consecutive stories aloud- in a row,preferably on the same day to make sure thisdoesn’t happen.
Link to Hearst Writinghttp://www.hearstfdn.org/hearst_journalism/cham
All materials presented… Remain the property and copyright of the various owners of the original works. These yearbook samples were presented at BALFOUR workshops for the benefit of their clients and customers. Please do not alter these presentations. Use of these shows is intended only for individual adviser-to-staff classroom teaching, not for publication or reproduction in any form for any type of presentation at a conference, camp, convention, or gathering of multiple schools’ staffs.
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