Fundamentals of Editing: Structure

Structure is the glue that holds writing together. To determine whether the piece has a solid structure, ask these questions:

  • Are facts presented in a logical order?
  • Does the story follow a coherent path from Point A to Point B?
  • Will readers understand the sequence of events?
  • Is the context clear?
  • Are terms defined?
  • Are relationships apparent?

Here are the elements you're looking:

  • News: What happened? Why is this a story now?
  • Impact: Who is affected? Who are the winners and losers?
  • Voice: Where is the emotion? What do the people affected have to say?
  • Context: What’s the history or background? Has this happened before?

If you’re struggling with story structure, try labeling each sentence to see where each of those elements is in the story. It may help you determine what needs to be moved. You also may discover that an element is missing entirely.

Taken from Fundamentals of Editing, a self-directed course by Andy Bechtel, Lisa McLendon and Sue Burzynski Bullard at Poynter NewsU.

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    Vicki Krueger

    Vicki Krueger has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 20 years in roles from editor to director of interactive learning and her current position as marketing communications manager.

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