“W” for WWWWW&H

LetterWWhat?! Am I writing gibberish now? No. WWWWW&H stands for What, Where, When, Why, Who and How. This is one of the first things I learnt when studying to become a journalist. It is a great formula for a reporter doing an interview because it poses all the basic queries that you need to answer for the reader. You cannot always get all the answers, but this formula covers the basics. Let’s say there is an event happening that you need to cover. The first thing you must answer is what is the event and what is it about. If it is something that the public can attend, then you need to know where it is and when — date and time. You then need to know why the event is being held — it might be raising funds for a worthy cause such as a cycling marathon raising funds for cancer research. You need to know who is involved and who can attend. The last question relates to how it is being organised, how you can get there etc.

You might think you are not a journalist, but you are a writer. These same questions can be posed in a short story or longer work. The reader still needs to know what the story is about, who the characters are; where, or the setting of the story; when, or the time period the story is set in; why characters behave the way they do; and how the characters and story develops to its ultimate climax and resolution.

For example, the fairytale story of Hansel and Gretel is about a boy and girl who wander off into the woods and discover a house made of gingerbread. They start eating the gingerbread off the house until a witch catches them and wants to fatten them up and eat them. They overcome the witch and throw her in the oven before escaping. Hansel and Gretel are the who of the story, and the description above outlines what happened.  The setting — the where — is the woods and the gingerbread house. The time — when — is generally during the day, although no actual month or year is stipulated that I can recall. The why or reason they run into trouble is because they had wandered off into the woods on their own and the witch caught them because  they started eating her gingerbread house. How it all happens is the actual storyline of them wandering through the woods and encountering the gingerbread house.

So, if you have to construct a story or write an actual account of something that happened, then remember the WWWWW&H formula to help you answer the questions the reader will want answered.

*If you need help in editing and proofing your work, why not send me a request. My website is http://paulvanderloos.wix.com/editor

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