Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tips To Improve Your Newswriting

The lede is your one shot to get your readers' attention. Write a great one, and they're bound to read on. Write a boring one, and they'll pass all your hard work by. The trick is, the lede has to convey the main points of the story in no more than 35-40 words  and be interesting enough to make readers want more. Here's how.
You've probably heard an editor say that when it comes to newswriting, keep it short, sweet and to the point. Some editors call this "writing tight." It means conveying as much information as possible in as few words as possible. It sounds easy, but if you've spent years writing research papers - where the emphasis is often on being longwinded - it can be quite difficult. How do you do it? Find your focus, avoid too many clauses, and use something called S-V-O.
The inverted pyramid is the structural model for newswriting. It simply means that the heaviest or most important information should be at the top – the beginning – of your story, and the least important information should go at the bottom. And as you move from top to bottom, the information presented should gradually become less important. The format may seem odd at first, but it's easy to pick up, and there are very practical reasons why reporters have used it for decades.
So you’ve done a long interview with a source and have pages of notes. But chances are you’ll only be able to fit a few quotes from that lengthy interview into your article. Which ones should you use? Reporters often talk about using only “good” quotes for their stories, but what does this mean? Basically, a good quote is when someone says something interesting, and says it in an interesting way.
There's an old rule in the writing business - show, don't tell. The problem with adjectives is that they don't show us anything. In other words, they rarely if ever evoke visual images in readers' minds, and are just a lazy substitute for writing good, effective description. And while editors like the use of verbs - they convey action and give a story a sense of momentum - too often writers use tired, overused verbs. Here's how to cut the adjectives and freshen up your verbs.
Newswriting is like anything else - the more you practice, the better you'll get. And while there's no substitute for having a real story to bang out, you can use newswriting exercises like the ones found here to hone and sharpen your skills. And you can improve your writing speed by forcing yourself to pound out these stories in an hour or less.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How to write a Report

1. Identify the report’s objective: Inform, or advise? If the former, predict, or review? If the latter, persuade, or dissuade?
2. Consider your audience: Are your reader’s experts, or laypeople? Are they fellow employees, or colleagues in the same profession or industry? Take into account their educational level and their familiarity with the subject matter to guide your writing style and your use and explication of specialized vocabulary.
3. Research your topic. If you have been assigned the report, be sure the person you received the assignment from has thoroughly briefed you on its goal and its scope. If you are initiating the report yourself, again, be sure you know those parameters. Then, consult with other stakeholders — those whose work relies on the dissemination of such reports — and ask any experts you know for advice before studying print, online, and other media sources and collecting data.
4. Using all this information, produce a first draft. Review it to ascertain whether you have covered all the pertinent points and whether the report answers questions and/or resolves concerns inherent in the topic. Revise as necessary.
5. If it your responsibility to format the report and there is no template, research effective report design online and incorporate the principles to the best of your ability; however, don’t become distracted by this phase of the project or let design overwhelm the content. A crisp, clean presentation with an attractive layout is sufficient, but strategize how to use graphic information and how to emphasize key points with typographic treatment.
6. Ask colleagues or other knowledgeable associates to critique the latest draft and note any revisions they suggest — inserting or deleting sections or details, reorganizing the structure, clarifying your argument or your point of view, and so on.
7. Produce a revised version, step away from it as your schedule allows, and then finesse it to create a final draft. If editing and/or proofreading are not established stages in the report’s development, at least ask someone whose skills you trust to check for errors, and incorporate the changes before submitting the report.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ten Steps to Preparing an Effective Oral Presentation

1.  Determine the purpose of your presentation and identify your own objectives.

2.  Know your audience and what it knows.

3.  Define your topic.

4.  Arrange your material in a way that makes sense for your objectives.

5.  Compose your presentation.

6.  Create visual aids.

7.  Practice your presentation (don’t forget to time it!)

8.  Make necessary adjustments.

9.  Analyze the room where you’ll be giving your presentation (set-up, sight lines, equipment, etc.).

10. Practice again.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How to write short stories

1. Fewer Characters – More than TWO is Crowd
The golden rule for selecting characters in short story is “Fewer are better”. A short story would more effectively convey its meaning if it has very few characters – one protagonist, one other main character and no supporting or side characters would be ideal.

2. Develop Characters for Theme – Do not fall in Love
Animating character with perfect adjectives and examples are a must for connecting readers with the character; however, typically while writing short stories, do not fall in love with your character and overdo the characterization. (But in case you fall in love… Congratulations!!! Now it is time for you to write novel or drama). You need to muster all but only required characteristics and decorate them poetically – use appropriate adjectives, interesting dialogues, colourful descriptions, or even short-lived (in story) side characters. But again, remember, you are writing short story and therefore you need to be choosy in painting your characters – must use needed paints (to match your theme), and must do it fast (as short as possible).

3. Single and Short Time Frame – One at a Time Please
Unit of time frame may vary from hours to days to weeks to years. The golden rule in selecting time frame for short stories is “keep it shorter” and “have it single”. Short story that has setting of few hours may typically be clearer and more effective than with setting of few months or years.
But what if your plot needs longer time frame? And what if single time frame is not sufficient?
Be very careful. It may turn fatal attempt for short story writing. Re-look your plot because both the requirements need dynamic setting that is NOT recommended for short stories. But if you are still convinced for longer time frame then remember two points: firstly, advance events in your story faster, and secondly, place important events almost at equal distance. If you need multiple time frames for your plot, for example many scenes of fifteen minutes of online chatting, structure it in chronological or reverse chronological order. Avoid crisscross transitions among time frames (even expert writer would avoid it). Further you must use signposts (for example subheadings with dates) or any other creative method to provide clear idea of the time frames and of the transitions among them to readers.

4. Vivid Surroundings – Appeal to Five Senses of Readers
As a writer of short stories you must vividly describe surroundings. Here vivid description should not be misunderstood by predictable events and actions. You may choose to save few descriptions for climax but whatever you decide to disclose must be absolutely clear and very importantly be appealing to five senses of your readers. Be poetic, use suitable adjectives, script dialogues, or even deploy side characters… do whatever you need to ensure that the reader lives your story while reading.

5. Catchy First Line – Love at First Sight
You must so choose a start that your reader gets hooked to the story. Now you may have question – how to do this? Well, answer is not so straight forward. You must know your readers well: what they like, what they speak, what surprises them, what arouses their interest… but finally it is your creativity. Nonetheless you must create confusion or question in readers’ mind by first line of your story. Your reader must try to get answer from best of her ability and experience but she should finally end up digging into subsequent lines of your stories to quench her temporarily aroused inquisitiveness.

6. Choose Suitable Point of View – Who Narrates it Better
You need a tailor who will sew events and actions together in a meaningful and fashionable way in your story. Typically it should be one of the characters you choose – The Narrator of your story. Remember the narrator puts point of view from her or his or its perspective. Whose perspective would be better? It is not always perspective of protagonist that would make the plot better.

7. One Conflict Only – One Enemy is Enough
Have you ever tried resolving a conflict either professionally or personally? If yes, you know it takes time and unfortunately you do not have time in short stories. Choose only one conflict around the central idea of the theme. What does bother your readers? Do you see something that is still not resolved? Can you create confusion by revealing something surprising? I am sure you would get many ideas around any theme by answering these questions but choose one that you can personally relate (something you were touched recently or intensely). Why? More you relate to conflict, better you can animate the settings and develop characters.

8. Intense but Real Conflict
As we discussed, conflict gives life to short story, you must heightened the tension in your plot. Overcoming easy obstructions would not make your lead characters memorable. But, do not overdo it. Very rarely a superman would be liked in a short story. Even if you present a superhero on one side of conflict, you must show few “weakness” to make your story real.

So how to do it? Take a stand in beginning, make the stand dicey by posing sequence of actions against this stand, and just when both sides are “equally” fighting for superiority bring a “surprising” element that clearly makes your stand a winner or loser. That’s it.

9. Theme in Focus – Nothing More, Nothing Less
Every word in short story must be written for the theme therefore it is very important that theme is clear to you when you write story. Other elements of short stories – characters, settings, plot and conflicts – must tightly but comprehensively be tied to the theme. Be very careful not to be tempted to digress even slightly from the theme while writing short stories. You must heartedly decorate the setting and develop the characters but within narrow subject line as specified by the theme. Sometime, it may so happen that you may not be very sure of the theme while starting your story. No worry, in such case you determine the theme after completing the story and then critically chisel away extra flab that is not really needed for the theme of your short story.

10. Break Rules if Needed – Unleash Your Creativity

This is most important tip for becoming a successful short story writer – write for yourself. Unleash your creativity without impounding it by any rule.