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Writing Human-Interest Stories Kirsten Gantenbein MSTC Student 2/28/06.

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Presentation on theme: "Writing Human-Interest Stories Kirsten Gantenbein MSTC Student 2/28/06."— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing Human-Interest Stories Kirsten Gantenbein MSTC Student 2/28/06

2 What Do I Mean by Human- Interest Stories? Synonymous with Journalism term: “Feature Story” –The stories you see in the Sunday paper –Magazine stories in Time, etc. Profiling a person or event Appeals to the reader’s emotions or personal interests

3 The Benefits of Learning Human-Interest Writing for Technical Writers Expand your audience Bring a more emotional and memorable impact Allow for different perspectives Bring persuasiveness for Marketing and PR writing Add more skills to your writing repertoire Basic journalism techniques can help to:

4 How to Write a Human-Interest Story Audience Purpose Structure Breakout Session—Finding the Angle posTComm Tips for Writing Your Stories

5 Audience Specific –Audience research is very important before drafting a report or documentation Reading for information Broad –Example: posTComm audience includes alumni, perspective students, donors, etc. Reading for leisure or personal interest Technical Writing versus Human-Interest Writing

6 How to Write a Human-Interest Story Audience Purpose Structure Breakout Session—Finding the Angle posTComm Tips for Writing Your Stories

7 Purpose To provide information: –Useful To provide the reader with a story: –5 W’s –Compelling –Impact –People –Perspective –In Depth –Revealing If the reader can’t find the story, they get frustrated and STOP reading! Technical Writing versus Human-Interest Writing

8 How to Write a Human-Interest Story Audience Purpose Structure Breakout Session—Finding the Angle posTComm Tips for Writing Your Stories

9 Structure Thesis statement about points 1, 2, 3. Point 1 Point 2 Point 3 Conclusion Thesis statement--Lead Journalism--Inverted Pyramid –Most relevant details to the least relevant details of the story Technical Writing versus Human-Interest Writing

10 Technical Writing Example This study investigated how teachers planned for and involved their diverse students in classroom writing activity. Three strands of literature were relevant to understanding the ways teachers might foster students ’ participation in writing tasks. First, research and theoretical positions that illuminate the nature of writing activity, writing development, and related conceptions of teacher support provide information about influences on conceptions of writing instruction. Second, studies of writing instruction provide understandings of teachers ’ role in planning …

11 Journalism Example SESTRIERE, Italy - The 21-year-old Californian Julia Mancuso earned a stunning victory in the giant slalom today in snowy, foggy conditions to salvage a disappointing Olympics for the U.S. women's ski team. “2006 Olympics: Julia Mancuso skied to the rescue in the nick of time.” By Associated Press February 24, 2006 The first sentence is the “lead”—who, what, where, when, why

12 Tell your reader the end first…. Lead Info 2 nd Most Important Fact 3 rd Most Impt. Fact 4th Most Impt. Least Relevant Info Structure—Inverted Pyramid

13 Components of a Human- Interest Story Headline Byline Lead –Story up high Body –Story Details Quotes –Brings voice and insight from another source Ending (The Kicker) –Expands on significance…memorable ending

14 The Feature Lead: How to Begin Your Human-Interest Story Types of feature leads –Narrative –Anecdotal –Descriptive –Focus-on-the-person Nut Graph –3rd or paragraph into story –Don’t keep audience guessing –Focus Leads are important –Grab their attention –Tell them the story –Tell them what’s in store

15 Journalism Example SESTRIERE, Italy - The 21-year-old Californian Julia Mancuso earned a stunning victory in the giant slalom today in snowy, foggy conditions to salvage a disappointing Olympics for the U.S. women's ski team. “2006 Olympics: Julia Mancuso skied to the rescue in the nick of time.” By Associated Press February 24, 2006 The first sentence is the “lead”—who, what, where, when, why

16 Strategies for Writing Interesting Human-Interest Leads TURIN, Italy — Since she was a child, Julia Mancuso wanted to be crowned a champion. The California skier even wore a tiara during one of her races last week. Now she doesn't have to pretend after slicing through a blinding snowstorm Friday to capture America's first gold medal in the giant slalom since 1984 — the year she was born. Narrative elements Anecdotal Descriptive –Sets a scene Focuses on person Nut Graph –This story is about her winning a medal in the giant slalom –Answers the 5 W’s Find the story angle and begin your story! “Mancuso fastest in snowstorm, wins giant slalom” By Elliott Almond, San Jose Mercury News February 25

17 How to Write a Human-Interest Story Audience Purpose Structure Breakout Session—Finding the Angle posTComm Tips for Writing Your Stories

18 Break Out Session: Review Statistics and Find an Angle Analyze the data: –Which statistics have the most impact? –Which do you find the most interesting? Find the possible angles: –What would appeals to a broader audience? –What would makes an emotional impact?

19 Break Out Session: Evaluate Feature Leads Read the article published in the Seattle Times: –Is it effective? –What grabs you about this lead? –Did you like or dislike the techniques the writer used? Discuss some differences you find –Why are these difference important? How could you apply this to a technical communication story?

20 How to Write a Human-Interest Story Audience Purpose Structure Breakout Session—Finding the Angle posTComm Tips for Writing Your Stories

21 Rewards of Writing for posTComm Learn layout skills STC recognition Get in touch with alumni Crete a publication that represents the TC department –Give back to the TC department –Pride

22 Examples of posTComm Stories for 2006 Beth Kolko goes to the UN Summit on Technology in Tunisia STC Career Fair: March 28 Student Internships--Los Alamos Faculty profiles--New Hire Anita Salem (MSTC graduate) and her work with the Red Cross Relay for Life team and event

23 How to Write a Human-Interest Story Audience Purpose Structure Breakout Session—Finding the Angle posTComm Tips for Writing Your Stories

24 Tips for Writing Human-Interest Leads The lead comes from the story –Build on a quote –Focus on a person Memorable fact or impression from an interview Put yourself in the reader’s shoes Try Several Versions and Don’t Give Up!

25 Add’l Tips—Tips for Story Writing Structure is looser Think cinematically –Long shot: Establish background –Close-up or zoom in: Main character –Point of View shots The Five S’s –So come on in –So what? –So and so –So therefore –So long! End your story with a kicker –Ending with a quote is always a good strategy

26 Add’l Tips—Tips for Interviewing Brings voice and insight from another source Planning the Interview –Research interviewee’s background, facts of story –Open-end vs. closed ended questions Note-taking –Tape recorder (have back-up) –Slow the pace of the interview –Rewrite notes after it’s over

27 Thank you! Judy, Kate Long, or Kirsten for more information


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