Chapter 4 – Telling the Story

Below are some observations about putting together a story that’s more than just a “hard news” just-the-facts report.

  • Readability is a measurement of such things as the number of words in a sentence, the number of syllables in a word and the number of ideas in a sentence. In general, the more of them there are, the harder a sentence is to understand.
  • Writing to inform and entertain is as important for journalists as it is for novelists.
  • Good writing begins with good reporting. You can settle for a dry police report, or you can go to the scene and gather details.
  • Good writing is accurate because it is built on concrete details. When you use language to communicate those details precisely, you inform and entertain your readers.

In general:

  • Use concrete examples
  • Show, don’t just tell
  • Translate numbers
  • Use words precisely

Tools of narration

  • Scenes
  • Dialogue
  • Anecdotes
  • Foreshadowing
  • Coherence
  • Decide on the order of elements
  • Select the proper sentence structure (simple, compound, complex)
  • Use precise conjunction
  • Use transitions
  • Parallelism

Writing Clearly

  • Keep sentences short
  • Limit each sentence to one idea
  • Favor subject-verb-object sentences
  • Avoid using more than three prepositional phrases in one sentence
  • Avoid using more than three number in one sentence
  • Use plain and simple words instead of jargon, journalese, or clichés

Aim for Conciseness

  • Eliminate some subject areas
  • Eliminate redundancies
  • Challenge intensive and qualify adverbs

Train yourself to value brevity

  • Keep it simple
  • Use correct of effective language
  • Take advantage of figures of speech
  • Careful word choice: precision means using the conditional mood (could, might, should, would)
  • Use bias free language
  • Correct Grammar and punctuation