How to Make a Story Look Like It Is a Newspaper Article

Woman holding up a newspaper.
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Fictional stories and newspaper articles are two different types of writing. An interesting exercise is to turn a story into a newspaper article by using standard journalistic writing and practices. These include using headlines, leads and the inverted triangle for writing events as well as formatting the text in columns.

1 Imagine the Story as Real

The writing in a newspaper is nonfiction, so the story must be rethought as a nonfiction account. Instead of characters, you are witnesses, suspects, sources and victims. Instead of conflict, you have a crime, a natural disaster or an unusual event. To turn a fictional story into a newspaper article, think of the events as real happenings that occurred in the recent past. Recast the characters as real people and reuse the dialogue as witness statements.

2 Write a Lead and a Headline

The lead in a newspaper article is a sentence about the most important element of the story. This is very different from a fictional story, which might start at the chronological beginning of a narrative, not necessarily the most important part of the story. For example, if you turned the tale of Little Red Riding Hood into a newspaper article, the lead might be, "Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother were the victims of a violent assault by the Big Bad Wolf yesterday in the Enchanted Forest." Newspaper articles have headlines instead of titles. The headlines are short, catchy phrases that key the reader into what the article is about. "Little Red Assaulted for Cookies" may be the headline for Little Red Riding Hood.

3 Use the Inverted Triangle

Newspaper articles use what is called the inverted triangle for writing the events of the story. Instead of writing in strict chronological order, the newspaper article usually begins with the most important facts of the story: the who, what, where, when and how of the events. Important details follow to give the story context. Other general and background information fill out the story. In the Little Red Riding Hood example, the Big Bad Wolf's attack would be the lead, followed by details about the grandmother's sickness and Red's basket of goodies. The story would end with background information about the Woodcutter's employment in the Enchanted Forest.

4 Format in Columns

A newspaper article is formatted in columns rather than in long lines of text across the page. Various newspaper template programs can assist in formatting text in columns, but even Microsoft Word has a column feature you can use to format text to look like a newspaper article. Each sentence traditionally constitutes a paragraph in newspaper writing.

Diane Kampf has more than 20 years of teaching experience ranging from middle school to college freshmen. She holds a Master of Arts degree in creative writing and English literature and a New York State Secondary Teacher Certificate. She has written educational materials for Learning Express, LLC, Kaplan and Pearson.