Q. When I write stories for the company’s e-newsletter and blog, I feel lost in all the details I have gathered. It’s so hard to figure out what it means. Advice, please?
A. Your experience is common. Every writer faces this dilemma sometimes.
First make certain that you have all the information you need. Then write 3 words that form the focus, the nub, the heart of the piece. Three words: subject + active verb + object. For example:
• Company announces layoffs.
• New building will house trial-advocacy programs for law school.
• Physician-in-chief receives astonishing national award.
That doesn’t work? Try these other tricks:
• Imagine that you are at a coffee shop. Your friend sits down and says, “What story are you working on?” What will you answer? Make that your focus.
• Focus on the one thing the reader must know.
• Focus on the novelty in this story. (Even if it’s dull, try to find something interesting.)
• Focus on the reason you care (or your manager cares) about this.
• Focus on the emotions that touch you.
• Visualize how the story will end, and you might find clues to getting there. Focus on that.
If all else fails, put away your notes. Write as fast as you can and see if logical patterns of meaning emerge.
Good luck. As I said, it happens to all of us.