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Writing Leads, Nut Graphs and Story Structure Write one good sentence. Then write another one!

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The Lead The best day is the one when I can write a lead that will cause the reader at his breakfast the next morning to spit up his coffee, clutch at his heart and shout, “My God! Martha, did you read this?” Edna Buchanan, former police reporter, The Miami Herald
And after the lead? A nut graph tells the readers why they need to read the story and provides transition to what follows. It’s the focus graph and explains the story’s point.

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Story Structure Inverted Pyramid : Transitions from most important aspects to least important aspects of the story and is most efficient – top-down approach! Hourglass Structure : Starts with inverted pyramid, then has transition and a twist in the middle, then triangle format with a kicker ending at bottom. Subject Blocks/Lists/Sections : Also called “chunk” structure and works for obituaries, longer and complex stories. Chronological Format : Good technique for “suspended interest” leads; can explain events. Hybrids : For example, meeting stories generally are hybrids of the inverted pyramid, chunk and chronological structures. Wall Street Journal Formula : Begin with an anecdotal lead and move from the specific to the general. Show people why they care, then move to the body of the story. Nonlinear : This is how the Web works, with hyperlinks.
FORK structure F = Focus: critical point (lead or nut graph) O = Order: key points in appropriate order R = Repetition of key words: these key words provide “stitching” between paragraphs K = Kiss off! (Try not to weave back and forth between sources. It’s confusing to readers who see last names in second reference.)

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C4 Conceive of your story’s main idea Collect information (from people, the Web, etc.) Construct the story Correct (revise) Remember: Use one fact per line. Use details, not adjectives. Use strong verbs. Provide good transitions.
Remember The best writing raises a question in one sentence that’s answered in the next, which has a question in it, too. Kinda’ like a wheel within a wheel …

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Story Transition Unity Tactics Repetition of code words, images Transitional phrases: “in other action” and “on the topic of,” etc. Transitional words: once, before, earlier, previously, afterward, however, nevertheless, moreover, instead, meanwhile, besides, toward that end … Sentences should move gracefully from one topic to another with varied “pacing.”
Know where you’re going when you write your story’s lead. And your ending is just as important as your beginning. But hey, we’re getting ahead of ourselves ….

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