For many TV reporters, the hardest things to write in any story are the opening and closing lines. The result is that many of the stories you see on the air are really just middles. They don’t get off to a good start and they seem to trail off at the end.
A few suggestions:
Think about opening lines from the minute you start reporting the story. Look for possible opening shots all along the way. Write possible first lines in your notebook; you should have several to choose from by the time you start writing.
But you’re still not ready to write if you don’t know where you’re going. Have an ending in mind and know why you want to end there. You may not have polished your last line to perfection before you begin to write, but you should know what you’re driving at and what video you’ll use.
Boyd Huppert, longtime reporter at KARE-TV in Minneapolis, is an award-winning writer who excels at opens and closes:
You can see how Huppert does it in these stories from his award-winning entry in the 2007 NPPA writing contest. See how he uses the first sentence or two in each story to let the viewer in on the focus. Notice the use of natural sound, and the ratio of sound to narration. And listen to the way each closing line clearly says “the end.”
Filed under: 05. Writing the Story