Say What?

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If you’re telling a story, you can use two journalism training mnemonics to check that you have covered all the bases. These are the 6Ws and the WHAT formula.

Journalism tutors use the 6Ws to help students remember the main elements of writing a news story, but they work for any story. Here’s how to use them. Imagine you have seen a car crash on the way to work one morning. You want to tell your colleagues about it. The 6Ws are what you would relate:

Who was involved?
What happened?
Where did it happen?
Why did it happen?
When did it happen?
How did it happen?

Giving these details gives you the bones of the story, and you can use them to write a lead which will hook the reader.

Once you have done that, use the WHAT formula to finish up your story.

What happened?
How did it happen?
Amplify the introduction – this means expand on the points you made at the start.
Tie up any loose ends, so that your story answers readers’ questions.

These formulas are the basis for every good news story – and a lot of tall tales as well.

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5 thoughts on “Say What?”

  1. Got me on that one, Jay. You wouldn’t believe how many times I checked that. Maybe it’s time for me to do a post on proofreading tips 🙂

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