I know that I said we would talk about nut grafs last Thursday, but then this cold stepped into my path.
Let’s get back on task: Nut grafs help you focus. They help you retest your “thesis.” They can also help you organize your story. Not to mention what they do for the reader (oh, the reader — yeah!) who wants to know really quickly what your story is about and why he/she should find some time to spend with you. Can’t explain that in a few words?
I sent out a challenge last Wednesday. I asked you to send me an example of a nut graf you thought worked really well (or one that failed miserably).
Tom Capp sent in this one from the New York Times about a student who jumped off a bridge after being “outed” on the Internet by his roommate.
The next one is from Dustin Renwick, and it’s from a great piece in the New Yorker (long form fans: you will want to read this all the way through) about an art “authenticator.”
Kellie Kotraba sent in this article about home-schooling that I also think is a very good example of the concept of contiguity (look at where links and supplemental information are placed in the text.
Our last example came from Rosie Downey, and it’s about one of my favorite subjects: cupcakes.
Find the nut graf. How well does the story fulfill its promise? Does it make you want to read the whole story? Does it provide enough context and suggest relevance?