20/20 #1 — In Focus: What’s the story?

Is this story worth writing?

Here’s another take on the five Ws – 

Who will be interested in reading this?

What is important, interesting, surprising, exciting?

When is this story relevant or useful — and will it still be relevant or useful when it is published?

Where does it take place — and where should it be published?

Why will readers care? (This may be the most important question!)

x x x x 

Finding a Focus

(from New Standard Handbook, ©2006 by PeoplesNetworks)

The focus of the story is a conscious decision. Together, you and the editors must decide on the main topic and angle of the story and choose the perspectives that will be most prominent. When determining a story’s focus, it will be helpful to ask:

  • Who does the policy or event most affect and how?
  • What are the most recent developments in the story?
  • What voices or angles have not been represented in other media coverage of this issue?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Focus Paragraph

A focus paragraph tells what the story is about, including the five Ws – who, what, when, where, why – and sometimes how. Here are two examples:

Example 1: This story is about how the St. Paul schools budget is made up, and how it changes. It will tell what the schools need for money and where they find it. It will look at this year’s budget.

Example 2: In 2008-09, St. Paul schools had a budget shortfall. The school board made decisions this summer about where to cut the budget to make up the shortfall. The story will describe why the budget shortfall happened and list some of the cuts that were made.

1) Evaluate the two paragraphs. Can you find the five Ws? Which paragraph will be more helpful in focusing your story and why?

2) Think about one of your stories (past or present), and write a focus paragraph.


©2008-2014 Mary Turck