Write the Story in Your Head

via 2.bp.blogspot.com

via 2.bp.blogspot.com

I’m sure that’s a bit weird to think about, but it’s something that I think I’ve always done.

It helps when it comes time to actually write the story because you already have an idea of what you are looking to do. It eases the stress a bit, as well, since you aren’t really starting from scratch.

Think about the story and how you want it to read. I find it helpful, even during the meeting, to be “plotting” the tone and direction the story could take. Call it prewriting to your prewriting.

With each quote I write down, I’m thinking about the lead of my story, why is it important and what quotes I’m going to use. It’s a habit that I picked up as soon as I started at the Chronicle last January. It’s stuck with me ever since.

I vaguely plan out how I want it to look and what I know my editor will want to read. It’s actually pretty easy to do.

When you’re in the meeting, you’re engrossed with what’s going on because it’s all fresh in your mind. It’s kind of hard to not think about the story, or stories, that are going to come out of it. I really think it’s a good exercise to plan out stories while you are in meetings. It may seem a bit bizarre at first, but I think, with time, it’ll really benefits writers of all speeds.

I’m a fast writer, but I like to plan and organize myself before I get into work. I spend most of my 30-minute morning commutes going through the stories I want to write on deadline. That way, when I eventually sit at my desk and open my laptop, all I have to do is type.

This idea isn’t for everyone, I get that. As reporters, we tend to only think a certain way, so I think it’s nice to branch out and expand how we do things.

It can’t hurt us, right?

Jonathan

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