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Title: FEATURES AND OTHER STORY FORMS


1
FEATURES AND OTHER STORY FORMS
  • Going beyond the news summary lead

2
FEATURES AND OTHER STORY FORMS
  • The Inverted Pyramid is just one tool in your
    writing tool bag. Its like those old,
    comfortable shoes you love. The IP is a wonderful
    approach for saving space and time, but its not
    always the best way to tell stories.
  • In IP, we give away the climax right off the bat.
    Theres little or no suspense. Sometimes its
    better to go a different direction especially
    on those profiles that are due in a few weeks.

3
FEATURES AND OTHER STORY FORMS
  • One key characteristic of the inverted pyramid
    structure is
  • the placement of events in a chronological
    sequence note
  • that in the tear gas story and the wife abuse
    story that the
  • what happened portions of the story were
    delivered in a
  • chronological fashion.
  • Now, the story forms we are going to talk about
    today are not
  • necessarily devoid of chronological structure,
    but they often
  • dress it up in fancier clothes. They often make
    use of
  • foreshadowing and flashback, devices that are not
    found in the
  • inverted pyramid style.
  • When we step away from our chronological
    sequencing, we
  • have to be careful with transition between
    paragraphs. Give the
  • reader an easy road map.
  • The blind lede rules of the news summary style
    soften.

4
TRANSITION TOOLS
  • Since most news story paragraphs are only a
    sentence or two, a
  • story will often contain a series, or even
    multiple series, of related
  • paragraphs.
  • News writers need to develop a good use of
    transition so that the
  • text flows smoothly from one idea to the next.
    When using direct
  • and indirect quotes, for instance, make sure its
    clear who is
  • speaking.
  • There are a number of words and phrases that can
    be used as
  • transitional tools. We talked about these words
    earlier this
  • semester, but heres a quick refresher

5
TRANSITION TOOLS
  • Some hints
  • Transitions that link also, in addition,
    additionally, moreover, furthermore
  • Transitions that compare in the same way,
    likewise, similarly, as well as
  • Transitions that contrast although, but,
    however, nevertheless, on the other hand, on the
    contrary
  • Transitions that create emphasis clearly,
    indeed, surely, truly, certainly
  • Transitions that show cause and effect as a
    result, consequently, therefore
  • Transitions that show a relationship in time
    afterward, later, then, while, next, previously,
    during, since, before
  • Transitions that sum up finally, in conclusion,
    in short, thus, to sum up

6
EXPOSITION VS. NARRATION
7
EXPOSITION VS. NARRATION
  • You can divide news writing into two primary
    styles exposition and narration. Exposition is
    what we have been working with so far it is the
    ordering of facts and information in some logical
    form.
  • But when we use devices like scene painting,
    mini-stories called anecdotes, dialogue or add a
    dash of foreshadowing, that structure is called
    narration. Many stories are a blend of those two
    styles they move from exposition to narration
    several times.
  • The Associated Press now offers many stories
    with optional leads to the original inverted
    pyramid story first put on the wires. These
    optional, delayed lead approaches make those
    stories more compelling. However, for clients
    with tight news holes, the IP version that is
    often easier to trim may be the better
    alternative.

8
EXPOSITION VS. NARRATION
  • EXAMPLE
  • A man sits at a weathered table with only his
    friend Jack Daniels to fight away the loneliness.
    One last cigarette withers away in an ashtray. He
    picks up the .38 and puts a fat round in every
    chamber of the cylinder. His fingers caress the
    cold steel. After one final swallow of Jack, he
    puts the barrel in his mouth. (Scene painting and
    foreshadowing)

Then the writer might go into a chronological
tale of how the man got to this point in his life
(flashback). At the end of the story, the writer
reveals what happened next (flash forward or
tieback).
9
EXPOSITION VS. NARRATION
  • In exposition, the writer is standing between the
    reader and the information the writer acts as a
    conduit and filter.
  • In narration, the storyteller moves aside a bit
    and allows the reader to watch the action unfold.

10
NARRATIVE DEVICES
11
NARRATIVE DEVICES
  • These can be in the lede or sprinkled about the
    story. You dont have to use just one. You can
    move your story along by these devices
  • Re-creating vivid scenes
  • Letting the characters speak to each other
    through dialogue
  • Foreshadowing important events
  • Relating memorable anecdotes
  • Lets look a little closer at these narrative
    devices

12
VIVID SCENES or SCENE-PAINTING
  • Narrative Devices

13
VIVID SCENES
  • Try to make the reader see, feel, taste, or hear
    the subject you are writing about.
  • One of the best ways to do that is to select an
    important scene -- a moment of conflict, a moment
    of decision, a climactic turning point -- and
    then re-create it.

14
SCENE-PAINTING
  • Heres a basic scene. (One setting, no
    characters, a single elemental change)
  • In the heart of the command center, a single
    wire, stiff and brittle from ten thousand cycles
    of heating and cooling, snapped away from its
    circuit board. The break set off an alarm -- a
    tiny pulse of electricity that raced through the
    wires to a monitored board at a control panel
    half a mile away. The pulse reached its
    destination, a tiny light that should have come
    to brilliant red life. But the light -- never
    used, infrequently tested -- failed to switch on.
    Those two tiny failures -- broken circuit
    burned-out bulb -- would have unimaginable
    consequences.
  • From Scene-Creation Workshop -- Writing Scenes
    that Move Your Story Forward by Holly Lisle,
    available at www.hollylisle.com/fm/Workshops/scene
    -workshop.html

15
SCENE-PAINTING
  • The most important facet of scene-painting is
    that you have to be there, or get enough
    information to make it seem you were there.
  • This establishes accuracy and credibility.

16
DIALOGUE
  • Narrative Devices

17
DIALOGUE
  • Dialogue can be a key element in re-creating a
    scene.
  • This device allows the writer to recede into the
    background and let the characters take center
    stage.
  • When you just use quotations, you -- the writer
    -- are telling the reader what the source said.
  • When you use dialogue, the writer disappears and
    the reader listens directly to what the
    characters are saying.

18
DIALOGUE EXAMPLE
  • Remember the police union strike threat from the
    Alvin story? Maybe it went down like this. Note
    how the quotes and scene-painting work together
    to capture the tension
  • John Smith, head of the Alvin Police Patrolmens
    Union, stood to confront the council, his fingers
    turning white as he gripped the lectern and
    unsheathed his anger over the rejection of the
    pay raise. You are turning your backs on a lot
    of folks that have families to support. If you do
    this, he said, taking aim with his finger at
    each member of the council, If you do this, I
    will urge our membership to strike. And I think
    the other city workers will come with us.
  • Mayor J.D. Squatty Billingham lifted his
    eyeglasses to rest upon his thinning hair and met
    the challenge with a measured tone. Mr. Smith.
    You are free to do as you wish. As for us, we
    will vote in the best interests of the city.

19
DIALOGUE
  • When you do not witness the conversation, you
    have to ask enough questions to capture the
    dialogue
  • What did you say to him?
  • What was his response?
  • Then what did you say?
  • What was his expression when you told him that?
  • Did he do anything?
  • Where did the conversation take place?
  • Note that dialogue can be a great device for
    capturing conflict.

20
ANECDOTES
  • Narrative Devices

21
ANECDOTES
  • Facts inform anecdotes inform and entertain.
  • Anecdotes are stories within stories. They can be
    happy, sad, funny or serious.
  • Whatever their tone, they should illustrate a
    point.
  • Its the specific case study that represents the
    general situation.
  • A good anecdotal lede takes a specific example of
    the issue at hand and makes you care about, or
    feel familiar with, that person or subject.  Then
    you find out what the larger issue is.
  • Beware of the anecdote that falls short of
    capturing the issue (the Zapruder film lede
    Oh, I dont know -- example from earlier in the
    semester.

22
ANECDOTES
  • You have to dig for anecdotes. Its not like you
    can ask your source, You got any good
    anecdotes? You can ask Did anything out of the
    ordinary happen during your trip to India?
  • Or asking friends and relatives of the subject.
    Do you have any good stories about Joe when he
    was growing up? What was he like in college? Can
    you give me an example of what youre talking
    about? Whats the weirdest or funniest thing that
    happened to you while you were on tour? Who was
    the best pitcher you ever hit against? (Notice
    the open-ended questions).

23
Anecdotal lede example
  • John Herrndobbler began his patrol of West Beach
    as he
  • always did, checking his equipment and putting on
    his steel
  • pot. He cleaned the lenses on his binoculars and
    stared out
  • into the moonlit waves of the Gulf of Mexico.
    Occasionally,
  • fish fleeing the chase broke the water and went
    briefly
  • airborne. But Herrndobblers focus was on a
    different sort
  • of predator German submarines. And, this night,
    Aug. 5,
  • 1943, Herrndobbler the lone guardian of
    Galveston
  • Beach spotted a periscope.

24
Anecdote / scene-paint combo surprise
  • MINARI VILLAGE, IRAQ Staff Sgt. Iron quakes
    with fear at the sound of
  • explosions. He brawls with other soldiers. He
    whines when he doesn't get his
  • way and slows others down when he stops to
    relieve himself during patrols
  • through hostile territory.
  • But nobody complains, because when it's time to
    enter a building that might be
  • rigged to explode, or cross a pasture that could
    conceal a minefield, Iron is at
  • the front of the line, making sure it's safe for
    those who follow.
  • If it's not, Iron will bear the brunt of the
    blast, along with his best friend, Sgt.
  • Joshua T. Rose, who ranks one level below him.
    It's an honor Iron enjoys for
  • the dangerous job he does. It also ensures that
    charges could be filed against
  • Rose in the unlikely event he ever mistreated
    Iron an 80-pound German
  • shepherd.
  • (nut graf note how story goes from specific
    example to the general theme)
  • Rose and Iron are one of about 200 canine teams
    deployed in Iraq, where the
  • bond between soldiers and their dogs is so deep
    that some handlers have

25
FORESHADOWING
  • Narrative Devices

26
FORESHADOWING
  • Foreshadowing is a billboard its the technique
    of advertising whats up ahead.
  • In a sense, every lede you write foreshadows the
    story. But the ledes that not only tell but give
    promise of more good stuff to come are among the
    most successful.
  • Foreshadowing can be a key part of
    scene-painting, dialogue or anecdotes -- note
    that the scene-painting example about the loose
    wire and faulty bulb strongly hints that
    something bad is about to happen.

27
FORESHADOWING EXAMPLE
  • It began as a lark, a dare actually. It was a
    friendly challenge, fueled by perhaps by one too
    many strawberry margaritas. Julie Jones had just
    gotten a camera phone that morning and was
    showing it off to her friends. Then the gauntlet
    was dropped. Hey Julie, I dare you to take off
    your clothes, said a leering friend, pointing
    the phone toward her. Jones laughed, but the dare
    didnt go away that easily. Soon, her modesty and
    her clothes were on the floor.
  • It was supposed to have been a joke between
    friends. But what happened next left no one
    smiling.

28
BEYOND THE INVERTED PYRAMID
29
BEYOND THE INVERTED PYRAMID
  • Journalists shouldnt be afraid to experiment
    with different story forms.
  • Remember the story about the California highway
    flasher? (He flashed. She snapped. Police
    developed the case from there.) The writer used
    some language with double meaning to create some
    wordplay to act as bait before venturing forth
    into the news and giving the chronology of
    events, etc. Its pure IP after the first
    sentence.
  • Lets leave the inverted pyramid for a moment and
    look at some other story form geometry to see how
    narratives can be combined with the inverted
    pyramid style.

30
THE HOURGLASS
  • (Often more like a bowling pin)

31
THE HOURGLASS
  • Essentially, the hourglass consists of two larger
    sections of information connected by a small
    paragraph that acts as the turn.
  • The top section delivers a summarized version of
    the news, perhaps in anecdotal form. This section
    ends as the actual nut graph begins, or is set
    up.
  • The turn -- perhaps something like This was not
    first time hed had troubles with the law --
    that acts as a transition tool.
  • The bottom section tells the rest of the story,
    elaborating on the material in the top section.
    It will contain the bulk of the story and is
    likely to be primarily chronological, but could
    contain some elements of the narrative style.

32
THE HOURGLASS
  • The hourglass can be used in all kinds of
    stories crime, business, government, even to
    report meetings.
  • It's best suited, however, for offbeat or
    dramatic stories where the bulk of the story can
    be told in chronological fashion.
  • For more on this style, read THE HOURGLASS
    Serving the News, Serving the Reader by Chip
    Scanlan of the Poynter Institute

33
THE NUT GRAPH
  • ALSO CALLED THE FOCUS STORY

34
The nut graph story
  • The Wall Street Journal gave birth to as story
    form best known as the
  • "nut graph" story, although it is also identified
    as the "news feature" and
  • the "analytical feature." Supposedly it was the
    brainchild of a Journal
  • editor who had grown tired of time elements in
    ledes.
  • Some call it a focus story. By whatever name,
    this story form
  • generally includes anecdotal leads to snare the
    reader. The lede is
  • followed by alternating sections that amplify the
    story's nut graph
  • (thesis) and provide balance with any evidence
    that presents a counter-
  • thesis. But its chief hallmark is the use of a
    context section that
  • highlights a specific case with the general
    problem.
  • Newspapers and magazines often used this form to
    help emphasize
  • explanation over information and understanding
    over knowledge.
  • Online news sites also rely on this form.

35
THE NUT GRAPH
  • The nut graph story concentrates on going from
    the specific -- one individual person or victim
    -- to the general -- how many more are affected
    by the same circumstances. Perhaps an anecdote
    and/or scene-painting is used to relate what the
    individual is confronted by or going through.
  • This story structure gives the writer a tool to
    reduce institutions, statistics and cosmic issues
    down to a level that readers can relate to and
    understand.
  • For more, read the THE NUT GRAPH OR FOCUS STORY
    by Chip Scanlan

36
THE FOUR BOXES STORY
  • A specific type of nut graph / focus story

37
THE FOUR BOXES STORY
  • The nut graph / focus story is often executed
    according to the four boxes method, while some
    prefer to give it five boxes depending upon the
    length and complexity of the story.
  • The writer simply decides to place information in
    certain cubbyholes or boxes. These boxes may be
    multiple paragraphs in length, but the content is
    all related.
  • Some boxes will be bigger than the others or the
    box may have sub-boxes, such as the pros and
    cons (or for and against) on the same issue.

38
THE FOUR BOX APPROACH
39
THE FOUR BOX APPROACH
  • The first box focuses on one individual, one
    example of the overall subject you will be
    addressing. Perhaps you begin with an anecdote or
    by setting a scene, some device that lets the
    reader know that you have an interesting story to
    tell.
  • 2. The next box, also a small one, contains your
    transition to the larger issue. This box begins
    with a sentence that acts as the turn, just as
    with the hourglass story. The turn -- something
    like Smith is only one of thousands of Americans
    facing the same problem. -- takes the reader to
    the theme sentence or nut graph. The nut graph
    defines what the rest of the story will be about.

40
THE FOUR BOX APPROACH
  • 3. The third box elaborates on the larger issues,
    giving its scope, the conflicts involved, the
    cast of characters, background etc. It will
    likely be the biggest of the boxes. Because of
    its size -- especially if there are lengthy
    sub-topics or two strong sides to an issue --
    this box could be divided into two (hence the
    five-box name) for development. Whereas box No. 1
    puts your creativity on display, box No. 3 lets
    your reporting take center stage. It is not
    necessarily chronological in form in fact, using
    flashbacks or other references to the individual
    in box No. 1 can be a good technique.

41
THE FOUR BOX APPROACH
  • 4. This box is for the ending. Good stories
    should end, not just stop. Maybe youve saved a
    good quote, a bit of dialogue or another
    anecdote. One excellent device is the tieback,
    where you bring the character introduced in box
    No. 1 back for the closing curtain. The material
    in this box is one of the significant differences
    between focus structure and inverted pyramid --
    you cant just lop off from the end.
  • Too Young to Diet example
  • http//www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id
    34484

42
Or THE FIVE BOX APPROACH
  • From Rick Bragg, Pulitzer winner with the New
    York Times
  • 1. The first box, the lead, contains the image
    or detail that draws people in the story. (Call
    of Duty gamer example)2. The second box is a
    "nut graph" that sums up the story. (hate
    speech)3. The third box begins with a new image
    or detail that resembles a lead and precedes the
    bulk of the narrative. (background set-up on
    Call of Duty)4. The fourth box contains
    material that is less compelling but rounds out
    the story. (how online played evolved, emergence
    of hate speech)5. The fifth, and last, box is
    the "kicker," an ending featuring a strong quote
    or image that leaves the reader with a strong
    emotion. (tieback to lead?)Fill the boxes with
    bulleted lists of information, quotes, statistics
    and you have an instant outline.

43
Five Boxes Approach
  • For more on this style, read THE FIVE BOXES
    APPROACH TO STORY WRITING by Chip Scanlan

44
THE SET UP
  • BEYOND THE INVERTED PYRAMID

45
THE SET-UP
  • If you dont like the boxes terminology, some
    writers define the focus story as having a
    creative introduction/lede and then moving to the
    set-up.
  • The set-up generally uses suspense in some form.

46
THE SET-UP
  • The set-up has five elements
  • A transition (lede device and the turn) to the
    theme paragraph (nut graph)
  • The theme paragraph -- placed not too far past
    the turn
  • Foreshadowing -- could be the turn or in several
    places in the story
  • The so what -- tells the reader why they should
    care. It localizes the issue and brings the issue
    home. The so what explains the impact and
    relevance.
  • The to be sure or Yes, but -- gives the
    other side (or sides) of the story. You want to
    be evenhanded.

47
HANDOUTS The abduction story
  • Compare
  • Abduction story/ Chronicle version
  • Abduction story/ alternate version.

48
MORE WRITING TIPS
49
WRITING TIPS
  • Good writing
  • 1. Gather information with all of your senses --
    smells, sounds, sights. Touch and taste.
  • 2. Dont tell the readers that someone is funny
    give an example of a prank or a humorous story.
    Dont say someone was angry show it by
    describing their expression or actions. Telling
    is story in outline showing fills in the spaces
    between the lines.
  • 3. Avoids cliches like the plague.

50
WRITING TIPS
  • Figures of speech
  • 1. Similes, comparisons using like or as, help
    explain the unknown by comparing it to the known.
    Her rubbery legs wobbled like jelly.
  • 2. Metaphors, comparisons without like or as,
    equate one thing with another. Jordan is a lion
    but with a gazelles legs.
  • 3. Allusions add value. Nat King Cole was the
    Usher of his time.
  • 4. Personification breathes life into inanimate
    objects. The windows of the old house were
    scornful eyes.
  • For a listing of rhetorical devices, go to
    http//www.virtualsalt.com/rhetoric.htm

51
WRITING TIPS
  • Good writing is coherent
  • 1. Logical thinking produces logical story
    structures. If you dont know where you are
    going, the reader wont either. Consider
    constructing an outline before writing longer
    pieces.
  • 2. Choose the proper sentence structure to show
    the relationship between among ideas. Compound
    sentences equate ideas. Complex sentences show
    cause and effect or sequencing.
  • 3. Carefully construct transitions between
    paragraphs. Transitions are like road signs they
    tell the reader where you are going.

52
WRITING TIPS
  • Good writing is concrete
  • 1. It begins with good reporting. Get those
    details.
  • 2. Be specific. Big or ugly or loud mean
    something only in comparison to something else.
  • 3. Avoid euphemisms. Down-sizing means people
    are losing their jobs.

53
WRITING TIPS
  • Good writing is clear
  • 1. Construct more short sentences than long
    sentences, more simple constructions than
    complicated constructions and favor strong verbs
    over forms of to be.
  • 2. Know grammar as you would like a mechanic to
    know the parts of your car. Learn the vocabulary
    of grammar and how grammatical structures work
    together.
  • 3. If you respect and follow the rules of
    punctuation, you will not embarrass yourself.
  • 4. Learn to spell, or at least learn to use a
    dictionary.

54
PROFILE HELP
  • Chronicle story on pitcher Roy Oswalt
  • The Halle Berry profile in Parade

55
ALTERNATE STORY FORM EXERCISE
56
ALTERNATE STORY FORM EXERCISE
  • Youve broken the Portland school / tear gas for
    your newspaper Web site and have updated it with
    new details and quotes throughout the day.
  • Now, its time to do the story for tomorrows
    editions of the newspaper.
  • Let's recast the Portland school story, the first
    inverted pyramid assignment for this class, with
    this new information.
  • The story should probably be at least five graphs
    longer than the inverted pyramid version of this
    story.
  • Use the facts from that story, coupled with this
    additional information, to "move the story
    forward" and create a more narrative story
    (rather than exposition).

57
EXERCISE The new information
  • Henry Forrest, algebra teacher, 57, was in his
    class teaching students how to reduce equations.
    He immediately recognized the odor as a form of
    tear gas. It burned his throat and nose, and he
    had to remove his reading glasses to dab his
    watering eyes with a handkerchief. He guided his
    coughing and gagging students out of the
    classroom and onto the school grounds. Some of
    his students were among the most seriously
    affected. He has taught at the school for 15
    years and says this is first time something this
    serious has occurred. But he says this will not
    deter him from doing what he loves teaching
    young people.
  • When Forrest was in high school, he lived in the
    Watts area of Los Angeles. He witnessed the
    infamous Watts riots, where racial unrest
    resulted in hundreds of people being injured or
    arrested and scores of buildings being burned. He
    did not participate in the riots but because he
    is black, he recalls receiving suspicious stares
    from L.A. police patrolling the area. During that
    time, he often smelled tear gas and smoke even
    while in his home.
  • Portland Fire Bureau officials will recommend to
    the mayor that Forrest receive a commendation or
    other form of recognition for his efforts.

58
EXERCISE The new information
  • Quotes from Forrest
  • "It gave me a flashback. It brought back a lot of
    old, bad memories," he said. "I remember the
    smell of tear gas, day after day. And the
    screams. Those screams don't go away. I heard
    those screams again today. It was a time I don't
    care to remember.
  • "Why do kids do things like this? This ain't kid
    stuff. Don't they know that they are hurting
    people, people who may be their friends or
    teachers?" he said. "It's just stupidity. Plain
    stupidity. And when they get caught, their lives
    will never be the same.
  • Quote from Don Mayer, Portland Fire Bureau
  • Thanks to his quick thinking, a lot of kids were
    spared from being exposed to the brunt of the
    gas. Hes a hero in my book.
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