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Story Structure

Here are a few basics to help with organization. To the below is a video about story structure from a man who makes radio news. Many of the lessons also apply to newspaper writing.

The Lead


The lead is the first one or two sentences of a news article and is the most important part of an article.


It must be informative for informational articles.


It may be “catchy” for features (much like a hook in a traditional essay) like editorials or profiles of people and events.


It should answer most or all of the "Five Ws:" Who?, What?, Where?, When?, and Why?


Avoid these "lazy" leads:


Topic leads: don't just state what happened. Make sure your angle is apparent from your lead.


Question leads: just get to the point!


Quote leads: these are seldom engaging and typically do not fulfill the informational duties of a lead.



The “Nut ‘graph”


The nut ‘graph, which stands for “nutshell paragraph,” explains why an article is newsworthy. It typically comes at some point after the lead of a story. It may be a summary of the article, or it may be a description of where the news fits in the larger context of events happening in your school, community, city, state, or nation.


​This paragraph answers the “so what?” question of the reader’s mind and lets them know why they should read your article.


​Nut ‘graphs are particularly useful in feature stories that begin in a narrative fashion.



The “Inverted Pyramid”


The “Inverted Pyramid” is a tried-and-true format for news articles that can guide you to structural success.


The lead should have the most important information (5 Ws).


The most important details and quotes should be near the beginning, while supporting information should be near the end.


Facts supported by quotes should be near the beginning.


Commentary supported by quotes should be near the end.


As you write more and more articles, you may break free from this structure. Learn the rules first, though, before you smash them!

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