Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thinking about story structure (and story, period)

To emphasize a point Jacqui made early in her session on Wednesday:

A lot of you have her handout on story structures (and those who don't, I still have some, so grab one off my desk or just ask me for one).

You could certainly look through that and find it formulaic and less than inspiring, toss it aside and decide to wing it with story structure. But as Jacqui noted when she was talking to Ted (who used to work for Gannett) about a rigid story structure Gannett used to use, "the value is not so much the rigid box but what it is they're trying to get us to think about."

Take a few minutes to look over the structures in Jacqui's handout. Then back it up -- begin to connect them with how you'd report; how you'd think about questions to ask before you went out to report; how you'd think about possible angles for a story and sources/questions that might inform your reporting; and how you think about story ideas.

When you start to look at it that way, it starts to fit together, and you start to see how having a "blueprint," as Jacqui calls these structures, can really help you get the most out of your reporting and writing.