ADVERTISEMENT

Writing

NEWS

4 'breath test' questions to diagnose your story leads

The first words of any story are critical. With that precious beginning, you offer your audience a promise that your story is worth their time. That’s the heavy-duty job of your lead. Occasionally leads will seem to magically fly onto the computer screen. But, more often, they are the product of hard work of writing and revising. Use the “breath … Read More
NEWS

7 ways to avoid jargon in your writing

Anyone who has tried to read a legal document or a technical manual understands how jargon, clutter, numbers and acronyms can jumble together, undercutting meaning and frustrating even the avid reader. Writers must avoid the trap of describing complex issues in complicated prose. Clarity starts with a clear understanding of the topic you are writing about. Here are some other … Read More
NEWS

9 ways to end your stories

There are endless ways to end stories, but few hard and fast rules. Yet every writer knows that the story must reach a satisfying conclusion. Here are a handful of strategies on which you can rely. Closing the circle: The ending reminds readers of the beginning by returning to an important place or reintroducing a key character. The tie-back: The … Read More
NEWS

2 types of leads that get right to the news

Whether you're reporting news or telling a story, you know you have to entice your audience instantly. There are essentially two types of leads for any story: direct and delayed. One gets to the point immediately, while the other may take awhile. But each type responds to the central interest: "Tell me the news" or "Tell me a story." Direct … Read More
NEWS

How to avoid clichés in your writing

Roy Peter Clark writes, "Clichés can multiply and take over your story like text-eating bacteria." Playing your cards close to your vest…whistling past the graveyard…minding your p’s and q’s…facing the music…toeing the line…putting your nose to the grindstone…swimming against the tide… Over-reliance on clichés is a form of automatic thinking. As part of the writing process, you may find that … Read More
NEWS

6 tips for writing broadcast stories

Great stories hang in the viewer’s ear and catch the viewer’s eye. Here are some guidelines for writing for broadcast (and beyond). Focus your story by summarizing in three words. Use one theme per story, one thought per sentence. Select, don't compress, what goes in your stories. Tell complex stories through strong characters. Viewers will remember what they feel longer … Read More
NEWS

How to turn your notebook into a camera

Good writers use their notebooks as they would a camera. They change their distance from their characters and change the angles they use to describe a scene. They shift their focus back and forth to capture both landscape and character. They write cinematically. Here are some standard camera angles to help you create a variety of effects: Aerial view: Look … Read More
NEWS

4 strategies for writing story endings

A writer can face many problems in ending a story. Time may run out, or space on the page, so that the ending really says: “I stopped writing here.” The story may lack focus or a problem may not be clearly defined so that an ending strategy appears forced or contrived. Some endings are stale and conventional, the equivalent of … Read More
NEWS

7 questions to guide your voice as a writer

Memorable writing has a strong voice. But how do you develop the genuine tone that distinguishes your writing? Consider these components: What is the level of language? Is it concrete or abstract or somewhere in between? Do you use street slang or the logical argument of a professor of philosophy? What "person" do you work in? Should you use "I" … Read More
NEWS

8 steps for building your writing process

Writing is a process – a set of predictable, repeatable steps in the journey to the finished work. While there are probably as many processes are there are writers, here are some of the identifiable steps. Explore: All good writers express a form of curiosity, a sense that something is going on out there. See your world as a storehouse … Read More
NEWS

How to write stronger sentences with fewer adverbs

Use adverbs sparingly. At their best, they spice up a verb or adjective. At their worst, they express a meaning already contained in the sentence: The blast completely destroyed the church office. The cheerleader gyrated wildly before the screaming fans. The accident totally severed the boy's arm. The spy peered furtively through the bushes. Consider the effect of deleting the … Read More
NEWS

How to provide context when writing about numbers

Numbers crop up in media stories in the most unexpected places. Your goal is to provide context and the story behind the numbers. Here's how you can write about two terms — risk and rate — accurately and ethically. A rate compares quantities that are measured in different units: for example, an amount or frequency over time or other unit. Read More
NEWS

8 ways to write shorter stories

Do you feel (or your readers) feel as though your stories drag on too long? Do you struggle getting to the point of the story? Story length is a function of focus. When you (or your editor or teacher) has a keen understanding of the what the story is about, it will be easier to revise your work. Here are … Read More
NEWS

9 ways to conquer writer's block

In the writing process, there will be a time when you get stuck and can't write. It may be anxiety, a boring topic, self-criticism or something else that keep you from getting words on paper (or screen). To become a more fluent writer, try these strategies: Trust your hands. Forget your brain for a while, and let your fingers do … Read More
NEWS

How to choose between 'that' and 'which' in your writing

The rules of grammar can seem complicated and rigid, but they will help you keep your writing clear and tell a story effectively. When the language is muddled, readers may get confused and quit reading. Here are guidelines for choosing between that and which in a sentence. The rule: Use which for clauses that offer incidental information; use that for … Read More
ADVERTISEMENT