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Before you submit your story, read this

By Audrey Irvine, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

Editor's note: This report is part of a CNN.com series about storytelling and reporting skills called iReport Boot Camp. In this edition, CNN.com editor Audrey Irvine shares her tips on packaging your final story. Read up, then give her advice a try in this week's iReport Boot Camp challenge.

(CNN) -- You have shot more than enough photos, captured tons of video and have written a rough draft of your story, so what's next? You always want to double- and triple-check your story elements before sending them in. Here are a few tips to help you determine the best elements to pick when putting together your story.

Don't over edit, but give it a few reads

When writing, think first about the overall purpose of the piece. What is your intention? It could be to shine light on something that no one else has covered.

In all instances, consider both sides of the equation. If you are simply telling the personal tale of one person, consider what about this person's story is interesting to you. What are the things you would need to know that would make your story stand out to a reader? Find a way to relate the story to your audience.

Write all that out and then give it a couple of reads. It's always easiest to put everything down on paper and then go back and edit as necessary. Editing out what slows down the text is best. But if you have a good quote, center the piece on it.

For example, if you're covering a protest, include some of the best quotes from the protesters you interviewed. Was there a recurring theme among them? Did folks have a personal stake in being at the protest? Review the strongest interviews and quotes, then write your supporting text to give the user context and explain why they should care.

Choose the most compelling photos

You can have a maximum of 10 photos for your story, so you want to make sure they complement the story in the best way possible.

If you are writing a story about protests, include images that reflect the angst, frustration and emotion in protesters' faces. Pick the photos that provide a snapshot of that particular moment. You want to take your audience inside your story.

Video and text should complement each other

What is the value of the video? Usually, when we have text and video, we want each element to be able to stand on its own. If they are published separately, the reader should be able to follow the story. However, when video is combined with text, the video should be added value to the overall vision or message of the piece. Video and text should complement each other. The text should not just be a transcription of the video.

In keeping with the same theme, if you're covering a protest, then the video should put the user in that moment. The video could include great natural sound of protesters, chanting and speaking. It could provide one person's point of view as opposed to putting every single protester in the video. This will also help keep your video within the two- to three-minute time frame.

For more tips on storytelling, visit the boot camp page, where you can find all the tips from the past six weeks. Remember, your stories are due Monday, September 26, at noon ET. Good luck!

 
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