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Oct 7 / Joel Cordes

Internship Insider: Tone, transitions and angle

Here are some highlights from this week’s mailbag at the Bleacher Report Sports Writing Internship program.

- Why am I supposed to avoid “I think” statements?

It’s certainly appropriate to be upfront with your readers if you want to relate with them on a fan level. That said, be careful of setting up an “I feel” mentality in your tone. Most of the time, it’s unnecessary—you wrote the article, so it’s obvious we’re reading your thoughts/opinions.

Try to write around this; usually you’ll find the result is stronger than your original idea: “I love Griffin and I think he is a huge asset to this team…” vs. “Griffin is a huge asset to this team.”

- How do I effectively transition from my Intro slide to my list?

The tendency for writers, with lists especially, is to usher in their picks by stating the thesis of the piece at the end of the intro. While this can be a logical lead into the next slide, waiting to state your thesis until the last line of your intro slide is what we want to AVOID.

Lead with your thesis, follow with your scene setters, background and transition statements.  Then, just let the mouse click from Intro to Slide 2 do the work.  You don’t need a “now let’s get into the list” type of statement clogging things up either.

Don’t Forget:

- Generally, game preview/recap headlines should begin with the two team names (away team first) separated by “vs.” and followed by a colon. The subsequent text should describe what follows in the article.

- Positions should generally not be abbreviated on first reference: “Defensive ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison” or “left tackle Jeff Backus.”

- If you start an article with the words “Last night,” your piece is already out of date. Web readers don’t want to read about something that already happened. They probably watched it—they know what happened last night. Web readers are more interested in what’s next.

Joel Cordes is Bleacher Report’s Internship Program Feedback Editor. Each week (along with contributor Greg Pearl) he includes some hints, tips and answers in an email to those participating in the B/R Sports Writing Internship, the highlights of which are shared with the B/R Blog.