What makes a good profile? • Create a dominant impression • “Writers of profiles don’t just write up the results of their observations and interviews. Instead, they choose the descriptive details, events, daily routines, anecdotes, and quotes…that will show why and how the profile’s subject is unique.” – John Trimbur
What Makes A Profile Readable? • An intriguing lede • Focused theme • Logical structure • Clear and well-written nut graph • Good use of quotes • Details, details, details • Ending with a “kicker”
Intriguing lede • Don’t back into the lede by starting with a general sentence that leads into a more specific one. Get to the point right away.
Example • The 1994 Big 12 National Championship football game between Nebraska and Miami when the Huskers won the national title was memorable for many Nebraskans. But for senior news-editorial major Richard Schneider, watching this game ignited a sports craze that would eventually lead to a career. • Focus into one sentence.
Example • Many could call Lacey Mason opinionated. But, according to her, who isn’t? “Everybody likes to say what’s on their mind.” As a columnist and assistant Opinion editor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Daily Nebraskan, Mason certainly has the platform to express herself. And express herself, she has. • Makes you want to read more.
Intriguing Lede • Grab the readers’ attention so they want to read more.
What makes a person special? • Star-Tribune story on poker player
Tightly Woven Narrative • Make sure your narrative is focused on a theme or dominant impression. • Avoid including irrelevant material that would detract from the focus. • The Man the White House Wakes Up To
Good Use of Quotes • Good quotes lend authenticity • Quotes are “those brief, brilliant bursts of life.” – Tom Brady
Be Selective • Good quotes should: • summarize what’s on a person’s mind • crystallize an emotion or attitude • offer an individual perspective – in a concise and interesting way
What’s wrong with this? • They said the grenades were probably fired from a building about 60 yards away. “There’s a crater on the upper level, but no one was hurt,” one embassy official said. • If it’s good enough to be in quotes, it should be its own paragraph. • They said the grenades were probably fired from a building about 60 yards away. “There’s a crater on the upper level, but no one was hurt,” one embassy official said.
What’s wrong with this quote? • The chairman announced that the company would start the most ambitious engineering project in its history. “We’ll launch our most ambitious engineering project ever,” he told applauding stockholders.
Transitions • When using a direct quote, be sure the preceding paragraph introduces it in some way. • A direct quote isn’t effective if it’s thrown into the story without the proper set up.
Details, details, details • Details make a story sing and stand out. • This is where thorough reporting and interviewing yield great results. • Details usually don’t come on the first question. You have to keep prodding and digging and asking more questions.
What detail is missing here? • She’s been interested in writing since third grade, when her teacher praised her book report in front of the class.
Add Color • Add color e by providing specific visual images. • Pseudo-color • The Secretary of State began his toast in the ornate, formal banquet hall of the Swedish foreign ministry • Real color • He’s a bear of man, 6-foot-4, with a thick bush of white hair and eyes the color of wet turquoise.
End With A Kicker • A good ending must do three things, according to Bruce DeSilva of The Associated Press: • Tell the reader the story is over. • Nail the central point of the story. • Resonate. "You should hear it echoing in your head when you put the paper down, when you turn the page.”
“The very best endings do something in addition to that. They surprise you a little. There's a kind of twist to them that's unexpected. And yet when you think about it for a second, you realize it's exactly right.” – DeSilva
If you’re ending with a quote, try to end on the thought not the source • “I like being able to find mistakes and fix things to help them look better. I feel like a detective or something when I find something nobody else has seen,” McCallister said. • “I like being able to find mistakes and fix things to help them look better,” McCallister said. “I feel like a detective or something when I find something nobody else has seen.”
Other endings • Anecdotal • Details • Scene-setting • Surprise
Blind student • Portraits of Grief examples • Portraits of Grief website • Video about project