You may be wondering, eh? I mean, I’m not a true journalist, though I write feature articles. I have written for newspapers, and this is where the term originated.
A nut graph gives readers the reason behind your story. It tells them why they should read your story before anyone else’s. You’ve already sold them with your story title or headline and lead. Now, you need to pull them down the readerly path farther and keep them reading. So, introduce your topic and then, give them information that they want to learn more about.
So, what if my headline was:
Florida Girl Catches Her First Fly
And then, we talk lead:
Florida is a state well-known for its sports lovers, and kids are brought up playing all manner of sports in schools and out of school leagues practically from the time they can walk. Over the decades, girls have become part of that scene, but it’s still tough to find a team that allows girls to play key roles.
So… there’s what the story is about, the angle. Girls playing baseball, and now, the nut graph:
Anna Ames is 11 years old and lives in Mainstreet, Florida. She started playing baseball at age five, and over the years has played on various teams. This year her little league team, the Mavericks, has Anna playing center field, though she’s been on the team for 3 years. It’s the first time the Mavericks have ever allowed a girl to play center field, and this week, Anna caught the fly ball that ended the Little League World Series for the Adamsville Mustangs, the series favorites. It’s the first time a female player ever made the deciding play in history.
So, now you have some human interest. She’s a girl and made a splash in the Little League World Series. Do you want to know more about her? I’m guessing that if I geared this story to middle-readers, it would be a hit for girls wanting to be athletic.
What did we do in that paragraph? We gave the who (Anna), what (caught the fly), when (this week), where (series) and why (first ever). Of course, Anna and the whole scenario is fictional, but you see what I mean, right?
If you can remember the simple 5-Ws, your nut graphs will work out. Put something really astounding in them, and you’ll have a much better article than your fellow writers. Plus, readers will be coming to your article and not just reading the headline, but the whole thing.