How do you take a collection of facts and tell a story that engages viewers? One simple way is to find a three-word focus for your story.

Here is a checklist to guide you:

  • What is the most interesting part about this story? (This is the main thrust of the story.)
  • What surprised me? (This may be the lead.)
  • What did I learn that I didn’t know before? (This is a main surprise, which we usually put high in the story.)
  • What will viewers want to know? In what order will they ask those questions? (This will determine the story frame.)
  • What do I want viewers to remember and feel at the end of this story? (This is the most memorable sound bite.)
  • What comes next? (This will lead you toward the end of the story.)

Those details will help you answer the question that will focus your story: “What is this story about?”

Taken from Reporting, Writing for TV and the Web: Aim for the Heart, a self-directed course by Al Tompkins at Poynter NewsU.

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