Striking a balance when the facts are cloudy

I liked the following story by Al Baker, a New York Times cop reporter, who put together a Nov. 14 police-shooting story with additional reporting feeds from five colleagues. It's a model for the [...]

How to be a playah

One of the most common assignments you get, especially at small- to medium-sized papers, is the local angle. At my first paper, we joked about doing a story about one notorious national figure [...]

Who won the ‘Who Won?’ story?

Your mission is to write a story of between 2,000 and 3,000 words about a complex report detailing the screwiest election in American history. You'll need to address the findings, a variety of [...]

A breakdown of a long story that ‘tracks’

Once you've gained enough command of your short-form stories to assign each paragraph a unique and necessary purpose (see the Oct. 15 posting), you can apply the same logic to longer-form writing.

Foreshadowing your key sub-themes

Every story is your first meeting with the reader, another effort to seduce--to get a stranger to come along with you, to convince him or her to trust you, to keep reading, reading, reading until [...]

‘Prewriting’ from three perspectives

In April, I asked you to pledge 15 minutes a day toward getting better, and gave a you a bunch of suggestions to choose from. ("The 15-minute workout," April 30) This week, try steal an extra 15 [...]

Building stronger middle sections of your stories

Admit it, you're lead-obsessed. We all are. (This newsletter is.) There's good reason: The lead not only determines whether a reader joins you for the ride, but it foreshadows many aspects of the [...]

Your ‘givens’ ain’t like mine

Slow down and ask yourself: Just what does the reader bring to my story? What’s wrong with this story? SAN DIEGO–The man who became the first person to legally receive Laetrile [...]