There must be no abstractions. Tall invites the question, how tall? Not necessarily what interests you most, but what will interest them.
It is the same with abbreviations and acronyms. Given the pace of newspaper and magazine production it is extraordinary that so few errors in spelling or punctuation appear, a tribute to the subeditors who prepare copy for publication.
You have already planned your structure, the hierarchy of information. But a quote will add a different tone of voice, inject emotion or passion, answer the question "what was it like?
The spokesman at police headquarters told a different story. People do not "proceed"; they walk. In it he warns of the dangers of adjectives thus: The first thing to do is stop and think.
You may have some agency copy, some material from other media. Every word must be understood by the ordinary reader, every sentence must be clear at one glance, and every story must say something about people. Anything readers do not understand makes them feel left out rather than included and turns them against the story.
Avoid them or explain them. The active tense is faster and more immediate; it also uses fewer words. Affirmed, opined, exclaimed, interjected, asserted, declared, are all tacky synonyms which do nothing to help the flow of the story.
A poorly written intro might confuse, mislead or simply bore the reader - a well-written intro will encourage the reader to stay with you on the strength of the information and angle you have started with.
We must be able to put it across. Do not start writing until you have a plan. Meaning must be unmistakable, and it must also be succinct. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.
And doing all this so that the story reads smoothly and seamlessly. It is a vital skill, as is using indirect quotation.
It is a matter of judgement. Like this real one: If they add relevantly to the information being provided, they can stay. But some specialist publications set out to educate - computer magazines are a good example - and while interest can be assumed, knowledge of how to use specific pieces of software cannot.
Worst of all is the extended metaphor or pun. There must never be a doubt about its relevance to our daily life. Many of the terms, although still in use, are generational.
It depends on the publication you are writing for, of course. And sometimes the quote has to be there to provide the precision, when the actual words used are crucial, and news writing and reporting textbook the story itself.
The best intro will contain a maximum of two or three facts, maybe only one. They do not read on, and you have not communicated with them. The good intro depends on your judgment and decisiveness. So understand the intentions of the publication you write for, or if you are a freelance you seek to sell to.
The reader of the Guardian will tend to be better educated and to have a larger vocabulary than the reader of the Sun. The best intro will demand that you read on.
The direct quote provides actuality.More than a quarter of a million students have learned the craft and ethics of journalism from Melvin Mencher's News Reporting and Writing.
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