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Beyond the inverted pyramid


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Beyond the Inverted Pyramid -- Story forms

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Beyond the inverted pyramid

  1. 1. BEYOND THE INVERTED PYRAMID New leads, new story architechture
  2. 2. Basic news leads    Summary lead The delayed identification lead Faulty wiring most likely sparked the blaze that claimed the life of an elderly Murfreesboro man last week, the city's arson investigator concluded Monday.
  3. 3. Other styles of leads Anecdotal leads  Richard Leakey likes to tell about the day in 1950 when he was a 6-year-old whining for his parents' attention. Louis and Mary Leakey were digging for ancient bones on the shores of Lake Victoria, but their little boy wanted to play. He wanted lunch. He wanted his mother to cuddle him. He wanted something to do. "Go find your own bone," said his exasperated father, waving Richard off toward scraps of fossils lying around the site.  What the little boy found was the jawbone - the best ever unearthed - of an extinct giant pig. As he worked away at it . . . he experienced for the first time the passion of discovery.  As a true anecdote, this lead takes the form of a short narrative with a beginning, middle and end. The kicker, analogous to a joke's punch line, wraps up the story and makes a point central to it. , Jack Hart, Editor and Publisher
  4. 4. Narrative lead   They pulled the car to the side of the road, turned off the motor and waited silently as the memories washed over them in a series of gentle waves . . . A narrative lead simply launches an action line. It's not part of an anecdote, necessarily. But it puts central characters into a scene and begins telling the story that pits those characters against some kind of complication.
  5. 5. Scene-setter lead   A woman with tormented eyes talks to herself as she plays a battered piano in Ward D's dayroom. Other psychiatric patients shuffle on the beige linoleum or stare from red-andgreen vinyl chairs. Scene-setters open with description. They may contain some action, but the main point is to give a sense of place important to the story's focus. This story described conditions at a state mental hospital. So a description of those conditions was an apt way to begin.
  6. 6. Significant Detail Leads   Hidden beneath a heap of inner-tubes in a tiny storeroom on an island in the middle of the Vistula River is the statue of Lenin that stood for decades inside the Gdansk Shipyard. As you might expect, this story explored the continuing influence of Communism and central planning on the operation of the shipyard and the economy of Poland. The statue of Lenin - hidden, but still in the neighborhood - perfectly symbolized the story's theme.
  7. 7. Scene wraps or gallery leads   A man claiming to be a Catholic priest sits in a Santa Claus suit in a wheelchair outside a Southeast Portland supermarket, collecting money for the "Holy Order of Mary Inc." Across town, a supposed South African visitor . . . launches into a complicated tale that soon has a Portlander withdrawing $2,000 from the bank . . . Elsewhere, a boiler-room telephone sales company. . . Scene-wraps illustrate trend stories. They show that the same thing is happening in several places. Because they consist of a series of pictures, they're also called "galleries."
  8. 8. The Single-Instance Lead   For five days, Alice's husband, high on drugs, threatened to kill her. He hit her and abused her. The single-instance lead uses one example to illustrate a larger topic. For that reason, single-instance leads are also called "microcosm leads.“ In this case, Alice's story was a gateway to a larger story on a new shelter for battered
  9. 9. Word-Play Leads   In Michael Crichton's previous novel, Jurassic Park, a tropical island has been transformed into a zoo whose denizens are dinosaurs brought to life by a group of greedy scientists who have been cloning around. Word play is essentially lighthearted. Word-play leads therefore work best on less-than-serious stories. They're popular in sports and entertainment, but they can succeed at grabbing and delighting readers in other forms as well.
  10. 10. Writing the nut graph – Chip Scanlan     It justifies the story by telling readers why they should care. It provides a transition from the lead and explains the lead and its connection to the rest of the story. It often tells readers why the story is timely. It often includes supporting material that helps readers see why the story is important.
  11. 11. Wall Street Journal style  Ken Wells, a writer and editor at The Wall Street Journal, described the nut graf as "a paragraph that says what this whole story is about and why you should read it. It's a flag to the reader, high up in the story: You can decide to proceed or not, but if you read no farther, you know what that story's about."  At The Philadelphia Inquirer, reporters and editors called it the "You may have wondered why we invited you to this party?" section.
  12. 12. An example  Blacksburg, Va. -- High on a mountain overlook, construction crews blast through solid rock on a 20hours-a-day rush schedule to build the first two miles of an expressway that, for the next few years, will lead only to a turn-around.  But for promoters in this Appalachian university town, that's of little concern. Dubbed the "Smart Road" and designed to double as a high-technology research site, this federal-state project shows how a little "pork" tucked into a federal transportation bill can buy a whole hog for a community.
  13. 13. Another example  Berry and Lee are victims of a new urban weapon in South St. Petersburg: Super Soaker water guns -- high-powered, bubble-shaped, neon water guns that can extend to three feet and hold up to two gallons of water. They tell stories of guns filled with bleach, hot pepper and even garlic and say that neighborhood youths have taken the game too far. This summer has seen an explosion of Super Soaker use on the South Side, say residents, local retailers and police.
  14. 14. Write a simple anecdotal lead and nut graf    Summary lead BURBANK, California – North Korea released two American journalists Wednesday after Bill Clinton successfully sought their release as part of a humanitarian effort. While in real reporting you shouldn’t create facts, to help with this lead, try to imagine a scene from their capture or captivity that could be used an anecdotal lead, i.e. seeing President Clinton.
  15. 15. A rewrite of Euna’s book’s first paragraphs    As the soldier pulled Euna Lee toward North Korean territory, she suddenly remembered that she had telephone numbers written on a piece of paper in her coat pocket. It was information that, if it fell into North Korean hands, could endanger many people in China and South Korea. She slipped her arms out of the coat and left it on the ice. Such was the beginning of the ordeal that eventually lead Lee and fellow journalist Laura Ling through140 days of captivity, something both would describe later as the worst time of their lives.
  16. 16. Write a lead for the road trip  Here's a quick way to produce a nut graf for your next story: Make up your mind what the story is about and why people should read it -- and then type that conclusion in one or two sentences. Experienced reporters say they find it helpful to constantly write and rewrite the nut graf through the course of reporting the story. Doing so tends to reveal holes earlier in the process and helps you avoid too many intriguing but tangential side trips.
  17. 17. Story structures   Inverted pyramid Summary lead with most important facts to least important.
  18. 18. Y Sparkle Glass       (also known as Martini glass or hourglass) The lead Key facts in inverted form Chronology of events in narrative form Kicker Often uses circle style
  19. 19. The Kabob Anecdote/Single Instance/scene-setter, etc… Nut graf Meat Meat Meat Anecdote
  20. 20. The Road Trip Assignment         Goals of the Assignment Cultivate observation skills Develop a sense of curiosity Chronicle sight, sounds and feelings into a story Learn to describe without relying on adverbs and adjectives Discover a new place and find out the story behind the place Learn the human story of events, places and things Practice use one of the leads and story forms discussed today.     Assignment Over the course of the next week, take a road trip to some place: Find an interesting story and write it up in lab. You may use an inverted pyramid-style lead or a delayed lead with a nut graph. Be sure to get some good quotes. Practice your interviewing skills. Look for news, using one of the news criteria introduced in the text. Write 300-350 words for this assignment. Keep it to about one and one-half pages, double-spaced.
  21. 21. Tips for the Road Trip      Practice using active voice. That means incorporating verbs that create pictures in people’s minds. Avoid adverbs and adjectives unless they provide an additional meaning to the noun or verb that’s not there. For example, don’t use “very” as in “very hot.” Things are either hot or not. Describe people doing things. Describe action. Describe sights, sounds, textures and smells… paint a word picture. Don’t wait too long between your observation and your writing it down. The less time that passes, the more accurate your description.