What's the Point ?

February 15, 2012 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

From Nora Ephron speaking at Brown University, President's Lecture series, "Adventures in Screenwriting" April 24, 1997. Paraphrased notes by Greg Lloyd: I took my first journalism course in high school. The fellow who taught it left after two years and opened a hardware store in LA. I think I was the only person he taught who went on to work as a journalist.

We learned the basics of story writing - who, what, when, where - and then learned how to write a lede. One day, the teacher wrote something like this on the board:

Mr. Charles Fenwick, principal of the Broadmoor High School, and his staff will attend the regional educator's conference in Wilmington on Thursday April 25th. Dr. Raymond White, state Secretary of Education, will keynote the conference, which will also feature an address by Dr. Marsha Newman, High School teacher of the year.

He said, "Write the lede." We sat at our desks and wrote, Dr. White to keynote educator's conference, Fenwick to lead teachers on trip to Wilmington and so on.

We turned them in. The teacher looked them over and said "No. What's the point?

"Your lede is, No School Thursday"

At that instant, I thought "What's the point? What a wonderful question!"

Feb 15, 2012 Reading John E. McIntyre's excellent blog post The Things Editors Do reminded of a point that tickled me in Nora Ephon's talk. Her story seems particularly apt in the age of Twitter, activity streams, and social software.

Happily I had a record of my notes posted in Traction Software's TeamPage server automatically carried forward from pre-release version of TeamPage, and still as easily findable and quotable as my latest post. - grl

"If what you write does not relate to the point, it may be good, but it will likely end up on the cutting room floor." ~ Nora Ephron, Adventures in Screenwriting, April 24, 1997.