Jacqui Banaszynski (Pulitzer winner for feature writing, Knight Chair in editing at U. of Missouri, Poynter faculty) is at the Greensboro, N.C. paper giving a two-day seminar. A friend of mine is down there & sending me some notes that I'll post here.
The first is about the writing process. What follows, Jacqui says, is what we need to do; most of us do some of these, but not all.
1. Conceive the idea.
2. Collect the data (reporting)
3. Focus on what the story is about.
4. Organize your material.
5. Writing the draft.
6. Revising the draft.
I have talked to some of you about really keying in on No. 3 here. You could even add another step, a new No. 4, that would be do more reporting toward the focus of the story. There is not always time to do that, but when there is it will make for a better story.
From my friend's notes:
"Yes, we conceive the idea (or an editor does it for us) and then we go out and report but if we don't focus on what the story is, then how are we to know we'll get everything we need? Some people try to define what the story is in 6 words or so. Others try to do it in one or two words. Just by doing that, you're defining what the story is. Then organize your material. How do you envision the story? What are the building blocks that will get you from beginning to end and carry the reader along smoothly? That will help write the draft and then you revise it."