I have an assignment in which I've been asked to write about Duncan's murder in the form of a newspaper article. How should I start the article? 

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The first step in writing a news story about the murder of Duncan in Macbeth by William Shakespeare is understanding the structure of most breaking news stories.

Newspapers generally use a format known as an "inverted pyramid". In other words, the most important information goes in the first paragraph, and each subsequent paragraph fills in less important details and background.

The five crucial pieces of information that belong in the first paragraph are what journalist call the "five Ws". They apply to the murder as follows:

  • Who: Duncan, King of Scotland. The identity of the murderers would be unknown to a journalist, and thus speculation about their identity (the grooms vs. Macbeth) would be placed later in the story. 
  • What: Was murdered.
  • Where: Macbeth's castle
  • When: Night of 15 August 1040 (historical date, not mentioned in play)
  • Why: This would be speculative as a journalist would not be sure if the murderers were the two grooms or Macbeth, and thus would not go in the first paragraph. 

Sometimes journalists also add "how" as a sixth "W". 

  • How: Stabbed by a dagger.
Sources:

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