Skills for journalists in print and digital media.

Story forms

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Basic story forms can help reporters and editors focus and design a story. Story forms are simple shells. They can be considered at the Idea stage (prior to reporting) and at the Organize stage (prior to writing).

Here are four:

Inverted Pyramid: Information in descending order of importance. Advantage: Expected and familiar form; quickly written and easily cut from bottom. Disadvantage: Story becomes less interesting as it goes on; reader stops reading before the end.

Block: Overview lead followed by discrete sections devoted to each of the story’s key sub-topics. Advantage: Sections allow information grouping for adequate explanation on each key point. Helps focus readers on key points. Easy to revise by changing order of the blocks. Disadvantage: Reader must read entire story to obtain all the information and fully understand the main point.

Wine glass: Top section conveys the entire sweep of the story, often starting at the end. Transition introduces the chronological telling of the story down to a kicker ending. Advantage: Conveys complex and dramatic events by double telling, first with the summary lead and then the chronological replay. Disadvantage: Sometimes longer and harder to cut.

Layer Cake: Anecdotal or narrative opening followed by alternating sections of narrative and exposition. Advantage: Narrative provides natural structure and color, and sets up background sections. Disadvantage: Narrative can wear thin. Readers pick up on the alternating rhythm and skip to the sections they prefer.

Story forms


Written by mroberts8

October 17, 2009 at 12:17 am

Posted in Editing, Stories, Writing

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