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Structuring Stories Really Works !

Today, just a short followup on last week’s post, about planning stories.

The previous post, about structuring your story, was itself a followup to a previous note I sent to NewsBlaze writers, about layout and subheadings.

This week, I wrote a story using that “CopyBlogger” planning method, and I liked the results I got. I think I did a better job of the story than I would have done otherwise, so it helped me. Kudos to Pamela Wilson at CopyBlogger.com

Today, I just want to show you what I did when editing some stories, just before they were published, but Judy and I can retrofit structure into published stories, and we do sometimes.

Show Readers What They Will Get

This story, by Robert D Ashford, was perfect for the “split it up with subheadings” method. Robert’s story had five things he wanted the reader to take note of, so adding the five subheadings made it really easy for readers to see what they were getting. The sections were relatively small, so that stops the story from looking intimidating in any way.

It is easy to see how the subheads break it up: Story With Subheads

If you like Robert’s story, I hope you will tell others.

Plain Jane Story

Now just look at a story we didn’t add subheads to – most of them don’t have the subhead structure – and you will see that it doesn’t look as inviting as Robert’s story does. Story Without Subheads

We can’t always add subheadings, especially for really short stories, but even one subheading makes a difference. We can do it in most stories that are more than five paragraphs.

Indenting and Italicizing

See also this different structure, in a story by Mina.

There are no subheadings, but there is a photo and there are indented italicized quotes. That helps too, but subheads could have made a big difference to this story, because it is long enough.I think subheads would have made it much more readable, but I’m not adding them, so you can see the difference.

Many Mina stories also have one really great extra, she links out to another of her stories, or to another NewsBlaze story that gives information relevant to the current story. The links usually are not prominent, but they do work to get readers to see another story, or some background. (and search engines follow them, so linking to another important story is a good idea for that reason too)

Sidebar and Midbar

The final things I want to show you are the “MidBar” and “Sidebar.” Occasionally, we add a sidebar, with relevant information, usually links to related stories.

See Shib’s story: Secret Dossier of Land Dispute Between India and Bangladesh

The sidebar is on the right side, about 11 paragraphs down.

Here are two stories with a new thing we added a month ago, the midbar.
Dwight Schwab’s political opinion

Martha Rosenberg’s Big Pharma story, with subheads, a picture and a midbar.

Make a point in a midbar, like this

The midbar is used as a “reinforcement” of a point to be made. A lot different to a subheading, when done well, it makes a nice break in visual structure of the story.

Please let me know what you think.



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