TIP ~ INKAS ~ #5

Moving on with INKAS… Something perhaps pertinent to our times,  NEWS FEATURE & NEWS EDITORIAL.

5 minutes


We  hear a lot today about “fake news”. While historically there have been plenty of news articles containing errors or even purposefully misdirecting information, the abundance of disinformation and accusations that accurately written objective  articles are the phony ones is a relatively recent phenomenon.

It was in 2014 that Craig Silverman coined the term “fake news” when studying and blogging about misinformation as it appears online. As his study dug deeper and deeper into the Internet, he discovered web sites that looked authentic and wrote articles in the style of news features, but their content was totally false. Many of these purported to be based in the US but in fact were the products of foreign actors with an interest in interfering in the lives of Americans by influencing our beliefs about the world. At worst, they led people to believe things that completely untrue; at the least, they confused us.

In addition to publishing incorrect information for us to read and accept as fact, these sites muddy the waters in a more insidious fashion. Once sites are exposed as “fake news” as Silverman dubbed it, their existence calls into question any/all news media and their sources. Without the savvy necessary to suss out what is fake and what is not, people tend to accept stories that align with their own beliefs and biases.

People who do not trust the government are ready to believe the worst about it; false stories about government wrongdoing simply serve to reinforce what they suspect and strengthen their resolve to hold that position.

Critical thinking skills allow us to tell fact from fiction, truth from lie. These skills–learned when we are of school age–are essential to living a responsible life and essential to protecting our democracy and our way of living.

So what can a writer do?

When I created INKAS for my Writing Club kids, the situation was much different. Occurrences of fake news were far fewer and far less likely to have effects the level of today’s turmoil.


The characteristics of News Features  are simple: they report on events or situations that are of current interest to the general population. Things that are happening that you want to read about.

News Features are factual and objective; there is no place for an opinion in a News Feature, at least not the opinion of the writer. Reporting must often include quotes from the people written about. However, that is part of the story, and the opinions should be clearly attributed to the people who hold them.

Finally, there is a structure used in writing News Features. You provide the most important information first, then support it with details and more facts. This style of structure is referred to as the inverted pyramid.

News Features are generally written by reporters. In contrast,News Editorials may be written by actual editors or sometimes other news writers or publishers. Pieces written by members of the reading public are published under the category Op Ed or Letters to the Editor. Some publications will print a guest editorial written by an expert or a person prominently in the news.


News Editorials are specifically written to express the writer’s opinion. In this case, the reader knows from the beginning that it is opinion, and not necessarily fact. However, well-written editorials are often supported by details and factual references. These pieces are commentary on current events and are usually written to try and persuade others to agree with the writer’s point of view.

News Editorials will often deal with politics, local events, global issues–such as climate change or how a disaster has been handled or how societies change. Their scope may be anything from global to local. Their intent may be heartfelt, or calculated.


Challenge yourself to read some news articles carefully. Do this with articles you expect will be features and ones you expect to be editorials.

Now for a News Feature, ask yourself:

  • Has the writer chosen the right information to put first?
  • Is their opening information clearly explained with supporting facts and details?
  • Do their itemized facts check out with other sources?
  • Is there an opinion hidden in the piece, maybe by how words are ordered or what words are used?

For a News Editorial, ask:

  • Was this article either presented or identified as a News Editorial?
  • Is there a clear explanation of the writer’s opinion?
  • Is it clear when the writer is offering opinion versus any facts they may use to support their ideas?
  • Do you feel the writer is trying to persuade you to join them in their beliefs?
  • If you are feeling persuaded, is it because of facts you can identify in the piece or is it an emotional response to the feelings and beliefs contained in the piece?

Congratulate yourself! You have just applied critical thinking to the news articles you read. I hope you found that enlightening. If you think anything you read in those articles was questionable, I hope you will try to check the facts with other sources and think about what you learn.

… and the next step is to try your own hand at this type of writing!

TIP ~ INKAS ~ #4

A quick reminder to followers, and an introduction for new readers, INKAS are a way I created to list the essentials of certain types of writing.


There are roughly 20 different INKAS, and I’ve been introducing them one by one for writers who are unclear about the differences amongst them. (What are INKAS? …..  TIP ~ INKAS ~ #1) Collectively, for me, Story refers to any tale told – orally or in writing – and told in any form. It can be a true story, it can be done as prose, poetry, or in song. But breaking Story down into its different forms is necessary so that writers put the correct “ingredients” together, and also know when to break the rules a little. That’s how cooking works. You follow the recipe until you understand that type of cooking, then you experiment with other ingredients. Sometimes the cake rises, and sometimes it falls, but you’ve become a cook – or even a chef – who knows what they’re doing.

Here are links to the previous posts about specific INKAS.

Short Story …..TIP ~ INKAS ~ #1.1

Children’s Story & Children’s Story with Illustrations ….. TIP ~ INKAS ~ #2

Poetry …..  TIP ~ INKAS ~ #3

Today I want to talk about INKA #4:  Song Lyrics


Like poetry, songs express our innermost thoughts and feelings; they just do it with musical accompaniment. And sometimes the music is all there is.

Songs can tell a story or  describe a single moment hidden a person’s soul. However, song lyrics can’t be written same way as a poem. Song lyrics must go with the music, coordinating rhythm and mood so that the song makes emotional sense. Not to say a poem can’t become a song. It’s often a good place to start. But there are other considerations.

The various styles of music – country, jazz, opera, popular, show tunes – use different styles of lyrics in their songs. Some jazz songs have no specific lyrics at all but rely on improvised sounds from the performer, referred to as ‘scat’, that may or may not have included actual words. Modern hip hop combines vocal sounds – or beats – with  lyrics that are spoken rather than sung, rap. These lyrics are vastly different in both content and style from other styles.

There are even further breakdowns within the main genres. County includes bluegrass. Jazz includes blues and Motown. Opera encompasses a lighter version, operetta, and a more modern style, rock opera. Music keeps evolving, too. A writer wanting to write lyrics for a particular style needs to study that style for length, emotion, pace, and even the types of vocabulary most often used.

It only makes sense. I’ve belabored the point a bit, because it seems to be what new writers forget. If you want your writing to succeed in a given genre (musical or otherwise) you must first get to know that genre inside and out. Then, when you can’t get the sound of it out of your head, sit down to write.

Time for a commercial:      “Do You Know Where YOUR Story Is?”

Is it a germ of an idea? Is it a rough draft or work-in-progress? Is it on its way to a publisher? Writers need to keep track of their work, and knowing where you are in the process is part of it.

I’ve started a free newsletter on Substack  that will cover all aspects of Story – where it begins, where it goes, and how it gets there. Topics will delve into the purpose and value of writing groups, and the newsletter will feature guest posts from members of Off the Page & Under the Radar. the writing group I’m part of.  In addition, there will be samples of our writing, maybe even a serialized story for your entertainment.   Please take a look at “Do You Know Where YOUR Story Is?” today.

TIP ~ INKAS ~ #3

Finally returning to our INKAS.  Poetry is  the next form of writing I want to discuss.


Working with multiple age levels in poetry can be tricky, something I learned early on in the years I coached Writer’s Club. Levels of understanding vary as much as levels of ability. On the other hand, nothing is more refreshing than to hear the original thinking that goes on in a new poet, especially when they are young. And, there is a form of poetry for everyone.

Poetry expresses our innermost thoughts and feelings. Poems can be funny — think Dr. Seuss — or sad. A poem can tell a story, as in a ballad, or it can describe a single internal moment in a person’s soul. Poetry is recited for entertainment and for learning. It can brighten our memories with a description of a grand day at the beach or touch our hearts with tender lines of love. Poetry connects the mind with the heart and the soul.

You will find that there are all kinds of poetry. There are poems that rhyme every other line, and there are poems that rhyme no words at all. There are poems only two lines long – couplets, and there are poems over 70 lines long: ballads.

Rhyming patterns – referred to as schemes – are described by assigning rhyming words the same letter. So, a limerick, where the 1st, 2nd, and 5th lines rhyme and the 3rd and 4th lines rhyme would be described as having a rhyme scheme of ‘aabba’.

APoemSometimes new poets like the idea of writing poetry because it is short – but that is an illusion. It takes thought to put expression into a few words or phrases. A good poem can take as long to write as a long story. But that doesn’t mean you can’t write a poem quickly, especially if you are excited about it.

One thing that young poets don’t always seem to know is how to present a poem visually.

Poetry is usually not written in complete sentences but in phrases.  It is not shaped like a paragraph but takes shape on a screen or paper in such a way that the reader knows went to stop and start and what the rhythm of the poem is. The look of the poem adds to the pleasure and meaning of the poem.

I find it easier to write a poem completely, then look it over and adjust the punctuation, the capitalization, and the lines so that it reads the way I want it to.

I said earlier that there is a form of poetry for everyone. Below is a  not all-encompassing of some of the different forms of poetry. Some you will recognize; some you won’t. You can read more about poetry forms and how to write it, including such details as meter and stanza, imagery and onomatopoeia, at Poetry 101: Learn about Poetry (where you can also find a link to details on US Poet Laureate Billy Collins’s MasterClass).  I’m not posting this info as a promotion, it’s just a fact that you will find the link there.


We write for many reasons, and we choose the form our writing takes based on those reasons. For expressing emotion, discerning truth, and unlocking secrets of the universe, there is nothing so useful as poetry. Happy writing!