Some advice on trimming stories: Bottoms up. First scan through the story and determine if the bottom few paragraphs can be deleted. The bottom third of the story should contain the least significant background information and minor details that are not always essential. On the other hand, if the latter part of the story contains information that might be essential to the story, move that information up and trim elsewhere. Quotations can be the heart of the story. They allow the writer to tell what happened through the eyes of witnesses and the individuals affected by or involved in an event. Powerful, colorful and descriptive quotes should be retained in a story whenever possible. IN MANY CASES, HOWEVER, the quotations are bland and seem only to restate something that already was mentioned in previous paragraphs. Look for these weak quotations that don't add to the meaning of the story and delete them. If a quotation contains useful information but is long and repetitious, paraphrase it in a simpler manner. Pruning the background. Every story must have background information to bring the reader up to date and to put what happened into perspective, but some stories contain too much background. Although background material usually is placed near the end of a story, it also can be found throughout the copy. If it is a struggle to get that final inch out of a story, look for two paragraphs or so of what is basically background material that can be condensed into one paragraph. Adapted from Fellow and Clanin, Copy Editors Handbook for Newspapers, 3rd ed.
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