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Cues from journalism 
16th-Jun-2006 02:57 am
pen
Journalists understand a few things about writing well: Be sharp. Be concise. Use action verbs. Borrow these strategies from them, but let them keep the moral ambiguity and the ruthlessness. I guess it's just a hazard that comes with the territory. The following is something I saw on Poynter Online, a website for journalists.

Clearer, Stronger Writing

By Al Tompkins

1. Tell the story in three words or OTPS, one theme per story, one thought per sentence. Select, don't compress, what goes in your stories. The stuff that does not make it into the story will make great tags, follow ups, or additional material for Internet sites.

2. Tell complex stories through strong characters. Readers and viewers will remember what they feel longer than what they know. Characters help me understand how the complex facts you uncovered affect people.

3. Objective copy, subjective sound. Let the characters evoke emotions, express feelings, and give opinions in their soundbites. The journalists' copy should contain objective words, facts, and truths.

4. Use active verbs, not passive ones. Consider the difference between "the gun was found" and "the boy found the gun." Ask "Who did what?" and you will write stronger and more informed stories.

5. No subjective adjectives. Your lawyer and your viewers will thank you. No more "fantastic-unbelievable-gut wrenching" or "mother's worst nightmare."

6. Give viewers a sense for the passage of time in your story. Make me feel you have spent some time by showing me the character in more than one setting, in more than one situation.

7. Remember, leads tell me "so what," stories tell me "what" and tags tell me "what's next."

"Good writers define reality; bad ones merely restate it. A good writer turns fact into truth; a bad writer will, more often than not, accomplish the opposite." ~Edward Albee
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