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The FORK method

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  1. Communication Methods

You can also try the following writing process – called the FORK method – to help you organize stories before and while you write:

F = focus

O = order

R = repetition of key words

K = “kiss off”

Focus.This is the main point of your story, In a hard-news story the focal point could be in your lead. In a soft-news story it is in your nut graph. But the focus is also a crucial organizing tool; once you find it, you have to keep it. Your lead should lead to the focal point, and all other information should relate to it. Information in your notes that does not relate to this focus should not go in this story. If you don’t know the focus of your story, your story will ramble.

Order.Look through your notes andmark information you want to use. On a separate piece of paper or in your computer, write key words or phrases to remind you of the items you want to use. Then put them in the order that you will use them in your story. You can change the order when you start writing if you don’t like your initial plan. Some writers need a very complete outline, others need only a few words to plan their stories.

Repetition of key words. This is a technique that provides smooth transitions during the writing process, or serves as a thought bridge to get you from one concept to the next. The technique is also known as “stitching”, because it helps stitch one paragraph to the other.

As you write, look at the last sentence in each paragraph and find a key word that will lead you to the next paragraph. That key word can trigger a question you can answer in the next paragraph or can serve as a bridge to the next thought. You may either repeat the word in the next sentence as a transitional device or just use the concept of the word as a bridge to the idea in your next paragraph. Don’t overuse the exact repetition of key words for transitions, because your writing may become boring.

The “Kiss off”. Do you get annoyed when a person’s last name is mentioned in a story on a second reference, but you have forgotten who the person is? The “kiss off” technique helps eliminate such confusion. It is a way of organizing information by using sources in blocks instead of sporadically throughout the story. After a person is identified by full name once, newspapers use only the last name if the person is mentioned again. If only one or two people in a story, this device isn’t confusing. But the reader will have trouble remembering sources by their last names if the story refers to several.

When you have three or more sources in a story, use each source once in consecutive paragraphs, blocking all his or her comments in one place, and then “kiss off” that source. Don’t weave back and forth with sources unless you have fewer than three. If you must use the source again in another part of the story, reintroduce the person by title or some reference to remind the reader of the person’s identity. The exception is a well-known source, such as the mayor, the president etc. The name of such a source may be placed anywhere in the story without confusing the reader.

The “kiss-off” concept also may be used in a story that has several different supporting concepts. After you have determined your main focus, plan an order for each supporting point. Block all backup material related to that point, and then kiss it off. If you have several people discussing several ideas, as in a meeting, you will have to be selective about which comments to include. Even in a story arranged by topics, you still should try to block information from each source – if you have more than three – in one place, so you don’t confuse the reader by weaving too many people throughout the story.

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