1 min read

How to write like an old-time journalist

You may call it a blog post, article or something else. A journalist would call it a story. Here’s how to write a good one.

Start your story by telling the reader what it is about. You do this briefly in the headline. Then again in the introduction or intro, which is a stop press paragraph.

Ask yourself:

  • what is this story about,
  • what information am I trying to get across and
  • what points must I make to do this?

Sum up the story in your mind in one simple sentence. This is your intro.

Its job is to tell the reader what the article is about and draw the reader in. As a rule, readers prefer brief intros.

Write so a reader who only gets as far as your intro still has a basic grasp of your story.

How a journalist starts

Newspapers teach journalists to start with a single sentence of between 15 and 21 words. This is what you should aim for, although at times you’ll need to use more words.

As an aside, proper nouns made up of multiple words only count as a single word when you’re calculating the ideal intro length.

You can have one sentence in you first paragraph or two or three. Either way keep it short and crisp.

Next comes the how — how did it happen or, more usually in your case, what happens next?

This is background information or explanation.

After the explanation comes amplification. You amplify the point or points following on from the intro.

Make these points one by one and in descending order of importance.

Last, after making all the main points, tie up any loose ends — ie., add any extra or background information deemed necessary but of lesser importance.