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Writing Worth Reading. Neil Probst. The big idea. Your byline NHQ loves telling your stories Of course, you’re welcome to tell them yourself Contribute feature articles to CAP Volunteer. To Teach and Entertain. What does a guy named Horace have to do with your writing? Roman poet

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Writing worth reading

Writing Worth Reading

Neil Probst

“Citizens Serving Communities”

The big idea
The big idea

  • Your byline

    • NHQ loves telling your stories

    • Of course, you’re welcome to tell them yourself

    • Contribute feature articles to CAP Volunteer

To teach and entertain
To Teach and Entertain

  • What does a guy named Horace have to do with your writing?

    • Roman poet

    • Writing should teach and entertain, according to Horace

    • Good advice for our own writing: We should “teach” something new by presenting new information the reader doesn’t have, and we should “entertain” by writing prose that awakens, rather than deadens, the reader. Don’t want anyone to die during this process, you know.

Success ingredients
Success Ingredients

  • This lab covers:

    • Writing a strong lead

    • Providing basic information

    • Including color and interaction

    • Fact checking

    • Using multiple sources

    • And more ...

The lead
The lead

  • Generally the first paragraph

    • Tells what story is about

    • Encourages continued reading

    • Tells who, what, when, where, why

Lame lead
Lame lead

  • Be careful not to be lame (story below from Montgomery Advertiser)

    • Despite thermometer readings in recent weeks, today is the first day of summer, and it will be a long, hot one.

      Today is also the longest day of the year, with sunrise at 5:39 a.m. and sunset at 7:55 p.m.

      The seasonal outlook can best be described as “nasty,” said Angel Montanez, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham. Ala.

      “There are equal chances of rain and dry weather,” he said. “But the forecast calls for temperatures to be higher than normal.”

Critical elements
Critical elements

  • The difference in the story being read or used as fireplace wood

    • News (who, what, when, where, why) but also

    • Interaction (human element)

    • Color


  • Who, what, when, where

    • It’s critical to give the basics, such as who is involved. Is it the Utah Wing or California? Is it cadets or officers?

    • What: What is happening? Was there a fire? Did a wing get a save for a search mission? You must have a primary news element.

    • When: Recently, two weeks ago, a year ago. A time element can boost the credibility of a story.

    • Where: In Mexico? In a small town outside Orlando?

    • Importance: Facts that can be verified by the reader make it more like fact rather than fiction


  • Talk to people

    • Interview at least five. Even if they aren’t in the story, you are fact checking to make sure everyone’s version of the events is essentially the same.

    • You’re developing a relationship that may bear future fruit

    • You’re getting quotes to add flavor to your report. If a member is at the fire, tornado or hurricane, this is where you get your “The houses were flattened like toothpicks” quote.


  • Paint a picture

    • My favorite part. This is where you can have some fun.

    • Color lends itself well to feature articles. It’s the mention of trees, weather conditions, activity near an event.

    • “snowy hills,” “Cessnas buzzed above the search site,” “geese swarmed the Chesapeake”

Get everyone involved
Get Everyone Involved

  • Highlight cadets and officers

    • Let cadets and officers offer insights for stories

    • Ensures that the story is balanced and reflects the teamwork in CAP

Sources vital
Sources Vital

  • The difference between a story and a feature story

    • Anyone call tell a story, but if it’s just one person telling the story, what if that single person is making up the information

    • Employ several sources in a story (news articles, Associated Press, other members of a mission)

Fact checking
Fact Checking

  • Save yourself some embarrassment

    • Get all parties involved in the story to review it and suggest comments and corrections

    • You don’t have to contact a ton of people to fact check. You also can use other sources, especially the Internet.

Buzz us
Buzz Us