When drafting a news story, a web report, or even a classroom writing assignment, a writer must find a way to draw the reader into the article. Journalists routinely use the inverted pyramid format, relying on its straight-forward approach to presenting readers with leads that tell them what's to come in the story. All writers should become fluid in using this style, which is commonly used in expository writing.
What is the Inverted Pyramid?
News writers know that readers skim the newspaper to find stories that interest them. They read the headline, and then the first sentence or two to judge if the article is interesting enough to keep reading. The inverted pyramid style of writing presents the essential facts in the first paragraph, with a hope of drawing the reader into the story. This style is used in the majority of published news stories because readers can choose to stay and read the details, or leave at the top of the story and still take away valuable information.
Structuring a Story Using the Inverted Pyramid
With this system of organization, all the facts are presented in order of importance, with the most important information leading the story. This style of writing is not exceptionally creative, but it is functional. The first paragraph usually answers the five W's (who, what, when, where and why). The rest of the story provides detailed descriptions, quotations from witnesses or experts, and background information that relates to the opening paragraph.
Writing the Lead Paragraph--Inverted Pyramid Style
Begin your inverted pyramid by simply stating what happened in the story you are about to tell. For example, "A 40-year-old man fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his car through the window of a tutoring center in Richmond, last night." From that statement think about the readers' next questions: Was anyone hurt? What damage was done? When did the accident happen? Use those questions to formulate the rest of your opening, inverted paragraph.
Popularity of the Style
The pyramid provides a quick and easy way to present factual information. Organizing from most important to least important is logical and helps move the story along. Take a look at a newspaper or surf news sites on the internet and you will find thousands of examples of inverted paragraphs. The key to writing an effective inverted paragraph is finding a topic that is newsworthy.
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