USC Annenberg Media Resources

How do I start writing my story?


Don’t obsess with the lede. Don’t be afraid to write the lede last.
Follow this four-step process.  It often works to clear journo-writer’s block.

  1. Just write-free form. Start writing down quotes from sources and notes from your notebooks.   Go back through your notes and use symbols to group each quote or fact by subject
  2. Write three or four paragraphs based on these subject groupings.  Do this quickly. Don’t pay too much attention to grammar or form.
  3. Take three deep breathes.  Then ask yourself: “What matters here?”  “What’s the headline”
  4. Create a chain diagram of the answer that emerges.

At this point, your brain will be more familiar with the content and will have started to organize the story into a narrative for you.  Your perspective on your material will change.


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