How To Write good copy

OK. So writing isn't your favorite pastime. You probable think photographs make the yearbook special, not the copy or stories. You may be right. but it doen't have to be that way. Copy can be fun and exciting, or it can be boring and monotonous. Either way it's an important part of fulfilling the history/recod book and memory book functions of a yearbook. Photos are the hook. They draw the reader into the page

Since copy is necassay to tell the whole story of the year here are some tips to make writing more fun for the yearbook staff and for the students to read.

Ask yourself "Why does the reader care?"

the most important thing you can do is put yourself in your reader's shoes. The answer should form the lead for the first paragraph. Keep the information unique to this year, not something that could go in any year to hold interest.

Avoid "The purpose of ..." leads

there is nothing that says "I'm boring" faster than a story beginning with "The purpose of the Candy Stripers is to..." Readers want to know what the club did year and how it was different from last year.

Consider new alternative forms of copy

some information lends itself to using infographics like a list, fast fact box, graph chart, illustration, map, timeline or a collection of quotes. These devices break up the text and can add interest to an otherwise average copy.

Avoid repeating information used in other areas of the page/book

if you have a picture of Chis and Ashley in the couples section don't include them again on candids pages. There are lots of students, get as many as possible.

Write in the past tense, but active voice

the events you are writing about will already have happened when readers see the book for the first time.

Use quotes to provide a personal perspective

quotes are excellent devices for giving credibility to a story, adding opinion, and color. Get quotes that add good information and personality to the story. Avoid quotes that are general and don't add to the story.

Keep your writing clear

place modifiers next to the words they are modifiying. For instance "No one may launch rockets from the launcher except Mr. Koochin," could lead to the story of the year if Mr. Koochin  gets launched from the launcher. "Only Mr. Koochin may launch rockets from the launcher" is probably more accurate.

Follow subject, verb, object order

we are most accustomed to reading in "Jane made the touchdown" order and is therefore easier to follow. Remember S-V-O is the most easily understood

Use two-sentence quotes when possible

nearly every quote is better if it is two sentences long. Short quotes leave questions in the mind of the reader. Often the second sentence completes the thought.

Avoid garbage words

garbage words tell the reader nothing. Become a master of the minimum. If it can be said with fewer words then use fewer words. Words such as

         a, an, the

         like I said

         in this picture

         additional photos are added

         very

general nouns like boy, girl, star, rock are more meaningful when they are specific: grade 9 student, cross-country runner, north star, 50lb rock.
the more specific adjectives and adverbs are the more clearly the reader will understand the message. Rather than referring to a girl by her hair color give specific qualities that relate to the subject such as "Number 18 blasted ahead on her long legs."

What's wrong with a question lead?

lots! For starters, it's your job to provide answers, not ask them
If the reader answers No the question the reader will not likely read on.


From: http://www.sjs.sd83.bc.ca/online/yrbk/copy.htm