Kids are great writers. Help them build their skills with these simple guidelines.
Yearbooks are a piece of our history that we treasure forever. Even though the photos and design are the stars of the yearbook, you want the writing to stand out and remain timeless over the years, too. The stories are what will make your already good yearbook great and take it over the top.
Writing for the yearbook provides multiple benefits for students. A story published in the yearbook is a great addition to a student’s blooming portfolio and can help give them the practice and edge they need when moving onto something like their high school or college newspaper. And while students spend years drafting book reports and writing papers, even the most talented among them are often beginners in the world of engaging storytelling. If you have a student writing for their elementary or middle school yearbook, help them learn the art of telling a good story with these simple but effective journalism tips.
There’s always a yearbook story somewhere to be found.
LOOK BEHIND THE CURTAIN
One of the things journalism teaches you how to do is dig deep. That’s because the surface story is usually pretty dull and one everyone already knows. In order to make your writing compelling and engage your audience, you need to be able to uncover the story lurking underneath it all. It might feel like there’s just nothing there, but if you dig, you’ll almost always find it.
Reliable sources are the cardinal rule of journalism, which means using primary documents and credible interviews with people like teachers and the principal, not something you overheard while walking down the hallway. It might be tempting to write something that you heard without doing the research to back it up, because it’s always easier that way, but it will almost always come back to bite you in the end. Always do your research and always make sure that research is from credible sources.
VISUALIZE THE BIG PICTURE
If you want your writing to have some sort of shape to it (and you do), you can’t just sit down and start typing and hope for the best. A good story needs to be visualized, planned, drafted, edited, and rewritten (and sometimes rewritten again after that). You’re painting a picture, not just typing words on a screen. And like any good painting, you start with a plan and gradually build from there.
PUT THE GOODS UP TOP
Think of your story as an upside down pyramid. Your lead goes first, followed by all of the relevant information that backs it up in order of importance. Most people are skimmers, but will read the beginning and end of an article. So always remember to load the beginning with the important stuff and to wrap it all up in a neat bow at the end.
CHECK YOUR OPINIONS AT THE DOOR
Opinion pieces are fun to write but they’re also just that: opinions. Unless the article you’re writing for the yearbook is meant strictly as an editorial, you’re going to have to learn how to check your opinions at the door and stick to the facts. Make sure to get all sides of a story, and keep in mind that there are often more than just two! Telling a story from all angles helps your writing to be relatable to a wide audience but also helps keep you credible.
It doesn’t matter if it’s something Shakespeare wrote or something your school’s janitor said, you can use it. There’s nothing wrong with using quotes or sayings from others. That is, as long as you always attribute anything said by another person appropriately – never use a quote without properly citing its source.