Fourth in a four-part series
Factual will be any item about an upcoming event, a contest, a civil rights news item, etc. It’s for pure information for use or education.
The basic, and still best in my opinion, way to write is the inverted pyramid. Let use a press release about a contest as an example.
The premise of the inverted pyramid is to start broad and then continue into finer details as you write out the entire piece. So the first line will be the most general. “CHICAGO – The Mr. Chicagoland Leather contest will be the Ye Olde Leather Bar on August 31, 2017.” It’s not fancy but it gets the basic information out. Save the exciting stuff for the FB event page. This is basic news information.
After you’ve got the first sentence, or lead, then you start going into more details. Who the judges are. Who the emcee is. Then maybe a bit more about the history of the contest. Then what the winners will get or continue on to. For a nice little touch, add a quote from the producer, last year’s titleholder or the emcee.
The important thing, even if you don’t use this particular style, is to get the basic info out: Who. What. Where. Why. When. Occasionally you may want to include How. But those Five W’s are required for a basic news story. Once you have those in you can expand the details around them.
Now if you’re going to write opinion… then forget everything I just said. I mean it. This is more personal expression then an impartial report. You may still wind up using the Five W’s, but you’ll be telling a different kind of story. You’ll be appealing more to emotion, whether it’s anger, empathy or humor. And there isn’t any one way to write that.
Opinion writing, depending on what you want to express yourself about, is much harder to teach. It, honestly, can’t be taught the same way. The best way, I have found myself, to learn is to read. Read writers you like. Pay attention to how they structure it. How they use words. The important part here is to try to clearly state what you believe and why and in ways that others can understand.