Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Writing clearly on a deadline

Exerpted from an article by Steve Buttry, Writing Coach, Omaha World-Herald, February 2001

... If possible, write as you report.

... Start putting the information from your last interview into story form. Even if you don't know where it will go in the story yet, start writing paragraphs that will fit somewhere.

... Write a lede based on what you know so far.

...Writing in chunks can lead to choppy writing. You need to fix this.

... Decide early what your minimum story is, the story that answers the basic who, what, when, where questions. This is the story that allows you to keep drawing a paycheck next week.

... Decide early what your maximum story might be, the story that readers will be talking about at work and in coffee shops the next day, and marks you as a star.

...Identify immediately the potential sources who could provide the information for the minimum story and get the information from them as quickly as possible. Then you zero right in on the sources who might provide the maximum story.

... Before and after each interview, assess quickly what you still need to nail down the minimum or maximum story. Go quickly to those elements in your questioning.

... If you don't have time to interview all the desired sources, avoid those who will waste your time with redundant information.

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