Clear And Effective Writing The News Story Powerpoint Maam
Clear and Effective Writing the News Story MA. CRISTINA M. FELICIANO School Paper Adviser Justice Cecilia Munoz Palma High School
1. Think First, Then Write Clear writing is the result of clear thinking. To write clearly, you must think beforehand. The pattern you can use most often is the who-what-why-when-where order of the news story. A good rule would be: to get your reader’s interest, lead off with something interesting and promising; wind up with something you want him to remember.
2. Get to the Point Don’t start off in a round-about fashion. Don’t bore your reader with a long-winded introduction. If you do, your reader is likely to quit reading before he gets the main idea. Here’s an example of an involved lead taken from an afternoon daily.
“ MAKATI, Dec.2 – After carefully assessing the status of the company, with particular reference to its record performance, present position and future prospects, the board of directors of the __________ Company at a special meeting held last Friday resolved that the proposal to dissolve the corporation be held on March 22, 1999. The dissolution will be accomplished by shortening the term of corporate existence to June 1999.” In contrast, the headline of this story came to the point quickly, “Firm to Close Shop.”
3. Use Familiar Words You won’t lose your reader if you give him more short sentences and fewer complex words. There are millions of words in the English Language. But did you know that only 500 of them account only for 75 percent of all that is said in print? There is no better way to clear, crisp writing style than short sentences and short words. Look at this list culled from our newspapers and office memoranda:
<ul><li>Complex Common Complex Common </li></ul><ul><li>Indisposed ill Terminate end </li></ul><ul><li>Monumental big Witness see </li></ul><ul><li>Purchase buy Utilize use </li></ul><ul><li>Majority most Reside live </li></ul><ul><li>Procure get Proceed go </li></ul><ul><li>Contribute give Request ask </li></ul><ul><li>Summon call Category class </li></ul><ul><li>Incarcerate jail Facilitate help </li></ul><ul><li>Inundate flood Inaugurate start </li></ul><ul><li>Prevaricate lie </li></ul>
4. Omit Verbal Deadwood Effective writing is concise. You can be concise by dropping unnecessary words from phrases or sentences. Every word should tell. There is no reason to call a spade “A long-handed instrument for turning earth in a garden.” Here are some examples of verbal deadwood drawn from Philippine newspapers and inter-office memoranda:
For the reason that - Because Tendered his resignation - Resigned Told his listeners - Said Used for fuel purposes - Fueled In the immediate vicinity - Near At the present time - Now Affixed his signature - Signed United in the holy matrimony - Married Held a conference - Met Was able to make his escape - Escaped
In the following samples, the underline words should be omitted: Advance prediction Free gift Fatal killing A period of two Weeks Definitely decided Past History New recruits Final conclusion Other alternative Dead body
5. Keep Your Sentence Short The logic of writing short sentences is obvious. The reader absorbs the idea faster. The longer the sentence, the more words. The more words, the more relationships. The more relationships, the more effort for the reader. The more chance he will misunderstand, the sooner he will quit reading. People don’t like to read material made up of 40-word sentences, even if they get it for free. Reading tends to become hard when sentences exceeds 20 words. Look at this table:
Average Sentence Length in Words This paragraph comes from an office memo: “ Should the supply of gasoline sent your establishment prove insufficient to meet the demand, application should be made to this office for an additional quantity.” This 25-word sentence could be revised to read: “If you need more gasoline, ask us.” Note that we are talking about averages. There is nothing wrong with a 40-word sentence, or even a 60-word sentence, now and then. But balance these long sentences with some short once of five or ten words, to keep the average length to 15 words. 29 or more words Very Difficult 25 words Difficult 21 words Fairly Difficult 17 words Standard 14 words or less Fairly Easy 11 or less Easy 8 or less Very Easy
6. Shorten Your Paragraphs Short paragraphs are better for three reasons. Visually, they are easy on the eye. It also signals the reader that a new step in the development of the subject will begin. Short paragraphs make for easy reference. As a rule, begin each paragraph with a sentence that suggests the topic or a transition sentence. Each paragraph should complete a single thought. After the paragraph has been written, see whether you can further break it into two.
7. Use Specific, Concrete Language Use lots of concrete, specific words that stand for things you and your reader can see, hear, taste, touch and smell. Concrete nouns help focus your reader’s attention. Always prefer the specific to the general, the definite to the vague, and the concrete to the abstract. Furthermore, you must watch out for “vague” or “imprecise” words. “Crime” for instance is vague. It may range all the way from jaywalking to murder.
Here are examples of vague words culled from newspaper reports: (town, barrio, city) Community (salary, bribe, reward) Monetary Consideration (deed of sale, record, certificate, treaty) Document (suit for damages, criminal case) Legal Action (wedding, mass, award) Ceremony (Jaycees, Catholic Action, YMCA) Organization (collision, a fall from the building, slip, etc.) Accident (fire, explosion, drowning, cave-in) Tragedy
Precision pays. The search for the precise word should extend to sentences. Consider these examples: Abstract words make your writing dull and vague. If you want to keep your writing clear and crisp and understandable, use concrete nouns and verbs. Be precise. He denounced the Communists. He spoke in disparaging terms about the radical element. Five hundred attended the caucus. A large number assembled for the meeting. Police took a .32 caliber automatic from his hip pocket. Officers removed a gun from his clothing. His skull was fractured with a hammer. His head was injured by a blunt instrument. Precise: Vague:
8. Prefer the Simple to the Complex If you write so that you can easily be understood, prefer the simple to the complex. Prefer the simple word to the complicated word. Prefer the simple sentence to the complex sentence. Prefer the simple paragraph to the involved one.
9. Be Positive Make definite assertions by following the natural order of thought: Subject, verb, object. Avoid hesitating, round-about language. A bureaucrat tends to write: “ With respect to the question of pets, Mary exercised rights over a certain juvenile member of the sheep family.” But the child simply says: “Mary had a little lamb.”
10. Use the Active Voice Write most of your sentences like this: Somebody does something – and watch your writing come to life. Very often it is the natural order / method by which a person breaks news to another. We call this the active voice. It gives snap and punch to your writing. Consider this example from local paper: 1. Congressmen demanded today the firing of all NAPOCOR officials. (Active) 2. The firing of all NAPOCOR officials was demanded today by Congressmen. (Passive)
Verbs make a story sparkle. For instance: The sentence “Newspaper circulation grew steadily” is more brisk and vigorous the “The growth of newspaper circulation has been steady”. Finally, use verbs in the active voice, whenever possible. The bulletin board of a local news-magazine office offers an example of a sentence with a passive verb: It is requested that the production department be notified of any charge in deadlines.” This could be simplified to read: “Please notify the production department if there is any change in deadlines.”
11. Write As You Talk A conversational tone makes for readable reading. It increases interest. It helps understanding, too. Don’t lapse into the stuffy business jargon that has no relation to the way business people talk face-to-face. For instance, a Philippine navy officer had this order posted on the bulletin board of his base office.
“ Effective immediately, the practice of endeavoring by words, gestures or otherwise, to beg, invite or secure transportation in any motor vehicle not engaged in passenger travel or hire or otherwise acting as a commercial passenger carrier, by officers and / or enlisted men or women in the naval service at any point within the boundaries of this naval command is forbidden.” And all he meant: “Don’t ask for free rides!” Try this. Next time you have to write something, get a mental picture of the reader. Then talk to him on paper.
12. Use Adjectives Sparingly Properly used, adjectives can help you write good reports. But too many adjectives result in rich, ornate prose that is hard to digest and is sometimes nauseating. Read this report of the former First Lady’s state visit – and weep: “ KYOTO, Japan, May 25 – A blue-white flash of modern magic today wafted the First Lady of the Philippines away from Tokyo’s withering clangor to the security of this ancient imperial realm.” “ Fan-twirling geishas danced and sang to the sad thrumming of the samisen and Mrs. Evangelina Macapagal, with Japanese and Philippine friends, nibbled succulent yakitori and crisp-coated tempura beside an emerald lake. “ At the ancient private Nomura gardens a hidden waterfall whispered amid tall pines and spreading Japanese maples. A white swan glided with arched wings across the water, dappled only by the movement of a great, lazy goldfish tasting the cool afternoon air.” Oftentimes experienced editors become suspicious when they spot adjective-laden reports. They know that oftentimes adjectives merely cloak a reporters’ lack of hard facts.
13.Revise and Sharpen Revising is a part of writing. Look for “fat” words that say nothing. Look for worn-out phrases. Look for unnecessary sentences. Look for paragraphs that don’t carry their own weight. Cross out all of them. You will be amazed at the crisp sound of what is left. So chop that long paragraph in two.
14. Write To Express, Not To Impress The person who can express complex ideas simple is likely to go farther in the world than the person who writes gobbledygook. Some people may be impressed if you write economic reports this way: “ An exercise that seeks quantitative answers relating to a period which is some distance away in the future must by it very nature by highly tentative.” But your readers will understand this better if you just write: “What followed was largely guesswork.”
The structure of the news story The news story consists of the following: 1. The first paragraph which is referred to as the lead, is a sentence that contains the most important or the most interesting element of the story. Example: Shiela Marie B. Tagpis, IV – 1 of T. Paez Integrated School, bagged the gold medal for having been adjudged NCR champion in an on-the-spot writing contest sponsored by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources on November 15, at the Philamlife Auditorium.
2. One or two additional paragraphs on the highlights of the story. Example: Aside from the gold medal, Tagpis was awarded a cash prize of P5, 000 for her feat. She bested contestants from six divisions.
3. Elaboration Example: Her winning piece was “Endangered Marine Life: A National Concern.” Tagpis was trained by Miss Vanessa T. Cruz, English Teacher. Dr. Rosario T. Saludes, principal, was present during the awarding ceremonies.
The Lead A special beginning paragraph or paragraphs are called the lead opens the news story. It answers the who, what, why, when, where, and how questions to provide quick identification of persons, places and events necessary for quick understanding of the story. A good lead is short and provocative. As much as possible, the first paragraph must have only one sentence. It must come naturally which allows the rest of the story to flow from it.
Body Development of the News Story The lead is the news story in capsule. It serves to arouse the interest of the reader by the way of giving him the essentials of the story. His interest kindled, his most natural tendency is to want to know more. He wants the details of the story. Hence, the need for the body of the story which explains or elaborates the feature or features on the lead.
Framework of the News Story The framework of the news story may be the inverted pyramid of the chronological order. The inverted pyramid places features of the story according to decreasing importance. The reader may stop reading anywhere or at any point in the story but misses no fact more important that what he has already read. The inverted pyramid is appropriate for fact stories.
The chronological order, on the other hand, is best suited to action stories which call for the emphasis on movement. Following the lead are the sequential presentations of the events in the order that they happened. Stories with strong narrative elements like games, accidents and fires are suited to this pattern.
Basic Patterns in News Writing The basic rule in news writing is to give the information at once. To achieve this, the news story should be written in the structure of an inverted pyramid which allows the presentation of facts in the order of their importance.
Following are the three basic patterns in news writing based on the inverted pyramid. Summary. In this pattern, the presentation of the 5 W’s and H is made in the order of importance. Lead (who, what, where, when, why, how) Body (elaboration of the best W) (other details) Feature. The best W is played up in the lead. The other W’s follow in the second paragraph and the other details in the succeeding paragraphs. Lead (best W or feature) Body (4 W’s and H) (other details) Combination. One or two of the best W’s are played up in the lead. The other W’s follow in the second paragraph. The succeeding paragraphs contain the other details. Lead (W, H) Body (W, W, H) (other details)
The kind of pattern used by the news writer is dependent upon the nature and importance of the event which he wishes to write about. Factors like fact, interest and the reader should be taken into account. Making facts interesting to the readers is a challenge to every news writer.
There are two reasons why news is written following the inverted pyramid. First, people nowadays have less time to read. Hence, they have to get the most important facts right away in one story then jump to the next. Second, to ensure that the news story meets the cut-off test, the inverted pyramid style is to be followed in writing it. This means that if the newspaper runs out of space to print the whole story, the last one or two paragraphs can be dropped entirely without damaging the most important part of the story.