When you’re writing for a digital audience, you want to consider using different story types that help get the information your readers are looking for quickly in a way that is easy for them to scan and determine the value it provides to them. Remember, online readers are finicky when they’re determining whether stories are worth their time. They’re bombarded by information all the time, so they make quick determinations about whether content is worth spending their time on. Using different types of story formats can make your content easier to scan, appeal to more than one audience, entertain readers, enlighten them or provide information in a more direct format.
There are literally dozens of ways to do this, but here are 10 effective story types and an explanation for when you should consider using them. (Click the links for specific examples).
The news story– The traditional news story still has plenty of vitality in the digital world, though you’ll want to think through how you use it. A traditional story with a lede, a nut graph and supporting information can easily overload readers if it’s too long or too dense. Try using it to break news updates, and consider following up using other story types. Keep it short, focused and to the point. Hyperlink to additional details.
Analysis – These are fact-based examinations that maintain a measure of objectivity while giving readers a sense of what the facts mean in a broader picture. These are an effective follow-up to news stories to help readers understand the significance of the news. While a news or game story typically focuses on what happens, an analysis should help answer the question of why it happened.
Opinion – This is a subjective viewpoint on an event, like a traditional column. They add color to the news and fuel debate.
Listicle – These are a versatile story type that can be used in a variety of situations. It’s simply a list of reasons, ideas, products, statements — really anything — that is tied together by a single theme. For example: “10 online story types that grab readers’ attention.”
Rebuttal – In this type of story, the writer takes issue with another published post and responds to it in a public way. This can be a response to another media report, a social media post, or a statement from a public official. It is typically an opinion piece, but a reply to a specific statement.
Roundup – These can be an effective way of serving readers a variety of content from a single source on your site. Often used during breaking news events, the roundup pulls together stories from multiple outlets or social media posts from other reporters to aggregate news on a single topic.
Behind the scenes – These can provide additional context to another story by providing first-person details about the reporting involved or the reporter’s personal experience, detailing an event a reporter witnessed or providing transparency in reporting by posting documents, interview recordings or photos.
Interview – Sometimes, rather than write a narrative story, posting what is essentially a transcript of an interview as a Q&A with someone of interest to your audience can be effective. This is particularly useful when an interview is controversial because it can neutralize claims of quoting out of context.
Explanatory – This is essentially a combination of analytical and news writing. In this type of blog, you explain how something works, or how something happened, to your readers. This could be breaking down a game-winning play, a trend that has become a key to a team’s season, a video analysis of a player’s struggles, etc.
FAQ – In this story type, you break down an issue or news event with a series of questions followed by answers from the reporter. The questions merely act as a way to organize the information in the form of answers.