Troll of the day

Ode to the nut graf

Here it is: The nut graf.

What you are about to write is about this, this and this.

“No oxford comma in your rule of three, please,” you said to yourself.

Or maybe the coy approach, ease into it:

A journalist walks into a bar and strikes up conversation with a man who just so happens to embody the point she is trying to make in a story she’s working on. And just her luck, the man is willing to chat (on the record, mind you), in a timeframe that suits her deadline.

So you write the journalist with man in the bar first because, in so many ways, he and she tie into this, this and this.

Which is what you’re going to write about. Once you’re through with the bit about the bar.

(Note: journalist is the antecedent of she because you expected he, didn’t you?)

You really get into it, transitioning from this to this, grinding down notes, extracting quotes like a pro, charging ahead to the final this. You even throw in a couple particularly prosy, borderline pretentious sounding phrases (lines if you’re bold) to see if any survive, a likelihood comparable to the continuation of our species, with an outcome equally wonderful or horrifying.

The latter: a literary zygote, sometimes a Frankengraf, a nonconsensual post-production lovechild. Or, a spitting image that you want to love but is just a reminder of how you could have done better.

The former: often a red ink, nip in the bud. It’ll make the cut someday. When you’re ready.

But what was it you were writing about?

Cue despair. Cue a lap around the office.

How did you get here? How will this ever end?

Cue the journalist’s totem; cue the nut graf.

“No this isn’t a dream; you’re on deadline, idiot,” you said to yourself.

Cue an appropriate window to end with a quote.

“Nut grafs force journalists to take every bit of information, quote, number and fact they acquired in the news gathering process and then digest it all into a single graf,” according to the website Stuff Journalists Like. “It’s been said the only things harder are giving birth and making an Obama cabinet member pay taxes.”

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