“A 46-year-old Philadelphia woman rescued from beneath a train on SEPTA’s Market-Frankford Line on Saturday night was admitted to Temple University Hospital, but escaped serious injury.” When we read that news item on Philly.com, we thought, wow, Katniss Everdeen has a rival for plucky survivor of the year. First, the woman gets run over by a train. When that fails to kill her, she is admitted to the Murderous Medical Center of Mayhem and miraculously escapes serious injury there as well.
Philly.com had an amazing story to tell: danger, suspense and a happy ending. Here’s the blow-by-blow: A woman fell onto the tracks as a train was rolling in. A bystander tried to help her but couldn’t reach her in time. Three cars passed over her before the train stopped. The bystander told the train crew what had happened. The woman was pulled out conscious and talking, with only a severe cut on one leg, some bruises and abrasions. She was taken to Temple University Hospital, which in truth is not a Murderous Medical Center of Mayhem but a noble institution providing excellent healthcare.
The writer or editor nailed the requisite who, what, when and where, but muddied up the lead sentence with too much information and a confusing sentence structure.
- DO prioritize facts and arrange them in your story from most to least important. In this case #1 is “woman rescued from beneath a train,” #2 is “escaped serious injury,” and “admitted to Temple University Hospital” is a distant 3rd.
- DO stick to one or two thoughts per sentence. It’s plenty for readers to absorb that a woman was rescued from beneath a train and escaped serious injury. Give them a (literal) period of rest and deliver the next thought in a second sentence.
Have a marketing challenge? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email [email protected].