The Importance of Surprises in News Writing
“What’s your two favorite holidays?” – she said.
“Halloween and New Years,” – I responded.
“Well, usually it’s Christmas and Birthdays,”
“Because people love surprises. So, if you have surprises in your writing they will love you too,”
I was blown away. I didn’t realize surprises make stories more interesting than just the normal story-telling techniques. So how do we incorporate surprises in news writing? Read on.
Don’t give it all away right away.
It’s tempting to have our first track spill all the beans like a beginning paragraph in a newspaper article. But remember, we aren’t paper. Instead, sprinkle your script with details and interesting facts like you would when seasoning stew. Let it simmer a bit and your last line is the when you turn the pot off.
When I leave a story I gather all my surprises up like a poker chips after a winning hand. Once in a pile, I sift through them and decide which will be revealed first and which is special enough to go last. The biggest surprises I put at the end while the smaller ones find their place before.
Let me them figure it out.
Spoon feeding your viewers in my opinion is an insult. We’ve heard “Write at a 6th grade level” but are 6th graders watching our newscast? Unlikely. When you can, write in a way that engages the viewer to come to the conclusion on their own. It’s rewarding for them and you when you can have viewers write the words in their mind it keeps your own writing tighter.
When your news writing has surprises your audience will have more incentive to follow you along for the journey. Surprises make your story dynamic and provides little gifts for you viewers as they watch. Surprises surprise. That’s why everyone loves Christmas.