Master the feature-style story structure
“Prose is architecture,” said Ernest Hemingway. “It’s not interior design.”
When you write, you’re building something. Specifically, when you’re writing a corporate communications, content marketing or public relations message, you’re building an argument.
So what organizing structure would make the best foundation for your message?
Inverted pyramid ‘doesn’t work well with humans’
Many of us learned early on that the inverted pyramid was the only way to organize information. Because of that, most communicators are so committed to the inverted pyramid that we married it in college, have sustained a monogamous relationship with it over the years and have made lots of babies with it.
“I never imagined there would be so much new information about writing, story structure and readers. I also appreciated it was all backed by research.”
– Brenda Gibson, public relations manager, The Miami Conservancy District
Friends, it’s time to start flirting around with some other forms.
For one thing, that structure you’re using for your blog post today was created during the Civil War for sending stories across telegraph wires.
Today, more than 25 years of research tells us that while the inverted pyramid worked beautifully for distributing information over a telegraph wire, it does not work so well with a little subset of your audience known as humans. For years, reporters and others have said:
“We write in the inverted pyramid, because readers cut us off after the first paragraph.”
But in new research, readers say:
“We cut you off after the first paragraph, because you write in the inverted pyramid.”
Research by the Poynter Institute, American Society of Newspaper Editors, Newspaper Association of America and others shows that the inverted pyramid:
- Reduces readership
- Scores lowest in understanding
- Fails to engage readers
The feature-style story structure, on the other hand:
- Increases readership
- Gets shared more often
- Delivers better insight and context
- Boosts satisfaction
- Improves brand perception
No wonder the Associated Press, the Granddaddy of the inverted pyramid, is turning to more feature-style stories.
So how do you master the feature-style story structure?
What you’ll learn
In this manual, you’ll learn how to Think Outside the Pyramid to write feature-style stories that grab and keep reader attention.
“Great step-by-step instructions on how to do it right.”
— Stacy Mayo, assistant account executive, Rhea + Kaiser
Specifically, you’ll learn how to:
- Write leads that pull people into your story — instead of turning them away
- Tap 7 types of lead approaches that work … and avoid 9 types of leads that don’t
- Put the background information where it will do the most good — and how moving it can hurt your message
- Use the classic essay structure of beginning, middle and end
- Answer the question your reader is asking: Where are you taking me with this piece?
- Avoid “the muddle in the middle” — a big blob of information in no particular order
- Whip your body into shape with 5 organizing structures … and one writing structure to avoid
- Keep readers reading with 2 types of transitions
- Draw to a satisfying close instead of leaving readers hanging
- End with a bang, not with a whimper, with 3 approaches for kickers
What you’ll get
“Not a tiny tweak, but a new form of writing.”
– Eve Gelman, director of marketing, Peddler’s Village Partnership
This manual is more than an e-book — it’s a true learning tool. You won’t just read about writing structure, you’ll master it, with:
- Checklists and cheat sheets
- Annotated before-and-after samples
- Dozens of examples of how to organize right
It’s all illustrated with more than 75 slides from Ann Wylie’s popular “Think Outside the Pyramid” workshop.
161 pages. Downloadable e-Manual.
$127. Introductory price: $99. Save $28.
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