Finding a focus

Lately, I have led you on a hummingbird tour of 1) better leads; 2) better interviewing and 3) story framing. Yes, I realize we have alighted only briefly on all these subjects.

There is a method to this, um, method (call it what you will, my friends).

All of these subjects are related to finding a focus. Some reporters find their focus when they sit down and write a lead. Some can find the focus in the middle of the interview (and then they can hear the lead).

Framing, of course, is an early attempt to focus a story (and sometimes, it backfires). Thursday, we’ll finish up that conversation about leads really quickly so we can talk about nut grafs. If you don’t know what your story is about, your nut graf will make that very obvious. If your story has changed since you wrote your lead, your nut graf will tell on you.

Chip Scanlan has some good thoughts on nut grafs. We’ll talk about what he has to say, and then, we’ll do a little show and tell.

Seen a great nut graf lately? Send it to me via email before midnight tonight and win a prize.

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3 Responses to Finding a focus

  1. Chip Scanlan’s thoughts reminded me of what John Schneller talked about the other day–we expect people to read our stories, and to give us a few minutes of their precious time. We better give them a good reason to do so. Nut grafs seem to be an effective way to do this.

  2. kbsmb7 says:

    One of the areas I’ll always strive to improve in is writing faster. I liked Scanlan’s advice on how to break down a nut graf story, and the way he explained it made it seem very manageable to turn a story quickly. I especially liked when he suggested that reporters write and rewrite the nut graf while reporting to reveal holes earlier and save time.

  3. Sean Leahy says:

    As a reader the nut graf is where I usually zone in first and keeping the nut graf’s importance in mind helps a lot when I’m writing.

    When I’m putting a story together I ask myself “What would I want to read in the nut graf?” Thinking from the reader’s perspective can lead to better nut grafs, at least in my experience.

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