One of the most useful tools in the yearbook room is the lead notebook. At the beginning of each year, I make a standing assignment of 10 “knock your socks off” leads per week from each writer. They must cut these out of newspapers or magazines and glue them onto a piece of notebook paper. I give the students credit each week for the 10 leads by just glancing at the papers; then I put them in the big red lead notebook that everyone uses. Periodically, I grade them carefully, just to let them know I am serious. And only the sheets with 10 outstanding leads receive an A.
One way for writers to learn style is to mimic the style of professionals. Every writer should have a style notebook and should practice something new either daily or weekly.
When we were studying the epigrams of Alexander Pope last month, I told my English 12 students to ask their parents to share with them any popular sayings or words of wisdom they had known while growing up. One student came back with “You read what you sow.” After laughing a bit, I started to realize that in the world of yearbook, this misstatement actually made sense.