Terms in this set (19)
Grammar & Spelling
Make it perfect!
Don't get stuck using just "students." Instead use "chemists," "musicians," or "athletes" whenever you can.
Try to avoid non-action verbs such as "is," "seems,", or "appears." Never ever say "Ann Jones smiles for the camera" or Mrs. Weaver's class poses for a picture." That may be exactly what they are doing, but they must have been doing something more meaningful before they stopped and posed.
Elaborate, Meaningful Quotes
Don't let the person you are interviewing just say yes or no or even just answer the question with a word or two. Ask them why they gave that answer. Ask them to tell you more. If they won't, then find somebody else to interview. Don't let them tell you something is "cool" or "nice" or any other trite or general word. Ask them what's "cool" about it or what they mean by "nice."
Don't say students are doing something, say Mrs. Wagner's algebra students are doing something.
Use the third person
Avoid talking to the reader by using the second person (you). Don't say "You can see" or "You would have . . ."
Don't be redundant
Don't use "Colon Jr./Sr. High School" or "this year" or "2017-2018." That's what this book is about and you don't need to say it.
REPORT what is happening in the photo. Tell who, what , where, when, why (only if you know for sure), and how.
Don't use the present perfect tense (Sally Jones is working on her project). Just use the present tense (Sally Jones works on her project).
"Boys and Girls" is no better than "Students" and "Kids" is worse yet.
Generic and boring terminology
Add "hangs out" to the list of generic things not to say (like "cool" and "nice.")
Generic and boring verbs
Avoid "get", as in "get ready, get instruction, get together." Think of a real verb.
Write in COMPLETE SENTENCES ("Coming together to unite as one!" is not a complete sentence. Sentences require a subject.)
Keep a thesaurus handy to find stronger verbs.
Strong verbs are the secret to great writing. Remember that example of the prom photo where the girl on the left "rejoiced" when she saw an old friend? "Rejoice" was such a perfect choice. The illustrative effects of it are far greater than "screams" or "reacts," and it's not a word you hear as often. A thesaurus will help you find those gems when you can't think of them yourself.
Be descriptive early, and get to the other stuff later.
The key to a good story is the detail. Now, we'll tell that one of the best ways to hook your reader even more is to front-load your caption with at least some of those great details. A lot of journalism folks will call this a "soft lede" or an "anecdotal lede," and it mainly means that you're showing your readers what's going on, instead of telling them.
Avoid (all types of) repetition.
A caption is short—both by definition and by design—so you've got to watch your words. Start repeating to the reader what's easy to discern in the photo, and you'll frustrate them and cause them to lose interest...that much we've covered already. But you also don't want to repeat words in your copy. Given the length of the caption, using the same word multiple times runs the risk of ruining flow.
Part one of writing a caption
Write a sentence in present tense; describe what is happening in the picture.
Part two of writing a caption
Write the backstory: what happened before or after the picture was taken. This sentence must be written in past tense.
Part three of writing a caption
Include a direct quote from someone in the picture; this quote must relate to what happened before, during, or after the picture was taken.
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