Cracking the ‘nut graf’

Nut grafs made one of my students cry. She couldn’t get the hang of them. I wasn’t connecting with explaining them.

Gimme the nut! (c. Holly Ocasio Rizzo)

Aw, nuts! (c. Holly Ocasio Rizzo)

On the way home, I threw the textbook explanations out the window. I decided to explain the long way and from the heart. This is what I wrote to her. She said it helped, and I saw that it did. It might help anyone who’s having trouble cracking nut grafs.

I thought about how a nut graph might be explained more clearly, and it’s this:

Writers approach articles from the inside out. They know what the story will cover, where it will end and how it will get there.

Readers approach stories from the outside in. They read in linear fashion from the first word to the last. After the lead, they bump into the nut graph, which gives them a road map to the rest of the story. The nut graph is like a synopsized version of what the writer already knows: where the story’s headed.

As writers, we try to see the story from a reader’s perspective. This is a big part of our craft. Without a clearly defined nut graph, the reader continues More