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Writing Copy

Writing Copy

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Writing Copy

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  1. Writing Copy G. Herbst 2009-10

  2. Basic Parts • Copy has three basic parts: • Lead • Quote • Transition • Copy is always written in past tense, active voice • Copy generally follows this basic pattern: • Lead, quote, transition, quote, transition, quote…

  3. Paying attention? • What is the basic pattern that copy follows? • Lead, quote, transition, quote, transition, …

  4. The Lead • The purpose of the lead is to: • Draw in the reader • Feel free to utilize rhetorical devices such as figurative language as long as there is NO editorializing • Supply basic information • Who, what, when, where • Example of a strong lead: • “Lights streamed across the doors of the bungalows, music pounded against the auditorium walls, and students filed out the doors to enjoy a night of games, food and prizes.” (The Rambleback, 2008-09, p 153) • Depending on the type of story, a lead may be anywhere from one sentence to a couple paragraphs

  5. Quotes Quotes should be the bulk of your copy They should always address the angle of the copy, the uniqueness of the current year, and the feelings of the participants One should generally end their copy with a heartfelt quote The word “said,” or any synonyms, comes AFTER the name of the person being quoted Quotes should convey the student perspective

  6. Eyes up here? • What is a lead? • A lead is the first sentence of an article. It draws in the reader and supplies the basic information of the article (who, what, when, where, why). • Where does the word “said” come when quoting someone? • It always comes AFTER the name of the person being quoted.

  7. Transitions • Transitions are the facts, figures and other pertinent information that the writer has gathered • They come between either the lead and the first quote, or between quotes • Must be free of editorializing • Ex: “The girls’ JV volleyball team had a great season.” (The Rambleback, 2008-09, p 125) • Stating that they had a “great” season is editorializing. Only a coach or a player may state this. The writer may only present facts and figures.

  8. Writing better copy • Better copy is developed through a clear angle • The angle is a specific “take” on a story • Think feature story, not overview • Features may focus on one event, or even one person • Ex: Focusing in on a major game that was a turning point in the season, as opposed to a general overview of the season • The copy: • does not summarize • For example: Copy about yearbook does not explain what the yearbook is and what is done in yearbook class. Good copy would focus on a specific aspect of yearbook; it may focus on the planning of the book, OR it may focus on the bonding that takes place in yearbook, OR it may focus on the yearbook’s approach to photography. • is specific to this year • Needs to be student-focused • Ex: If you are writing about a new head coach, get the players’ take • Educate yourselves • Read newspapers, magazines, and listen to news radio (It’s not always boring! Try KCRW 89.9 after school; they have fantastic feature and news coverage)

  9. Wake up call! • What is an angle? • An angle is the specific focus of the copy. It allows the writer to focus in on an important event without summarizing.

  10. Journalistic Style • Sentences are short and precise • Use vivacious verbs and exact nouns • For example, was he running, galloping, skipping, jogging? • Was she the world history teacher, adviser, or Social Studies Dept Chair? • Avoid the semicolon; if you use it, your sentences are too long! • NO editorializing • Any feelings or opinions should be the feelings or opinions of someone who is NOT writing the copy • This is what strong interview questions evoke • We always follow AP (Associated Press) style, and use standard English spelling and grammar • Your grammar crammers should be out EVERY TIME you are writing copy! • If you have a question regarding style, feel free to ask!

  11. Assignment • Choose three colored pencils. • One color will be for the lead, one for transitions, and one for quotes. • Read the story sample provided • Underline the lead in the correct color, the transitions in the correct color, and the quotes in the correct color. • At the end of each story, identify their angle (what specifically was the story about?) • Find and identify three facts, three feelings, and three figures.

  12. Homework Based on what you have learned the past few days about interviewing and copy writing, rewrite your feature story.