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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Story Frameworks

The right framework to organize a story can go a long way to improving its value.

Dana Blankenhorn buzzed: Notice the new way of newswriting? Inverted pyramids out. Now news stories read like live blogs Feb 4

Dick Davies - And how is "blog writing" different?Feb 5

Dana Blankenhorn - A single blog entry is more like an opinion column to me, some coherent whole meant to engender a response. Have a take and don't suck, in other words.

A live blog, by contrast, piles minute-by-minute facts together and, while it may contain a summary at the top (after everything is done) there's often no coherence. Feb 6

When I was a journalist, the inverted pyramid (write the most important first)was taught as Who, What, When Where Why, and How Many? That was how the editors and teachers defined it.

The writer (me) saw the inverted pyramid as, “How do I prioritize my facts, most important first and do it quickly?”

The inverted pyramid is a good, if basic, starting framework.

A second framework is a timeline. What happened first, second, third, fourth? I believe our mind's operating system is a timeline. Excess processing power produces queries like, “I wonder what was happening in China in 1066?”

A flashback, buggering the time order of a story, is a conceit (An extravagant, fanciful, and elaborate construction or structure), I guess showing the attitude of the author.

Bill Bryson's At Home, uses a framework of each chapter examining a room in his house, a rectory from the 1700's. He goes from prehistoric times to speculation about the future, cramming a wealth of disparate facts on every page. I can't think of another way he could have built such an entertaining book. A dense and entertaining read!

What is another good framework for organizing stories?
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