Writing with Personality

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From Cappon’s The Associated Press Guide to News Writing:

“You can avoid mumblers by being specific and concrete, giving the reader a picture.  A clever phrase, a touch of humor, and an ironic contrast help.

MADISON, Wis. (AP)—State Sen. Clifford “Tiny” Krueger eased his 300-pound frame into a witness chair Friday and said fat people should not be barred from adopting children” (26).

I have to admit that newspaper writing does not really appeal to me.  The writing is flat and for the most part devoid of personality.  I mean no disrespect to journalists because I think being so concise is a great skill to have.  Often times, people just want the news.  They don’t want to be entertained.  They can watch the TV or read a book for entertainment.  And certainly, the ability to be concise is a good trait to have sometimes as an English major.  Sometimes your professor doesn’t want a long drawn-out paper so he/she limits it to only a few pages.  For me, this is tough because I have to be conscious of what phrases I choose so I don’t run over the page limit.  In a case like this, packing my sentences with meaning is important; I’m learning a little more about that by taking this class.

But back to the quote, I picked this because it is packed with personality.  It’s funny while still delivering the pertinent information.  The reader gets entertained a little but still is presented with the facts.  In other words, reading leads like this is heartening for me because I realize that there is a little room to make someone laugh.  I also love this lead:

“YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio—A car sliced through a fast food restaurant Tuesday, killing an elderly couple who had stopped for lunch on the way to a family member’s funeral.  Six other people were injured” (27).

Atlantis Morissette would have a ball with this one.  Only this is actually quite ironic, unlike her song.  The only thing that stumps me is this; would you mention the fast food restaurant in the lead or wait to give this information later in the article as it appears this one did?

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2 Comments

Derek Tickle said:

I also noticed the same quote that you chose from Cappon's text. The reader becomes more involved when they are able to laugh instead of reading depressing facts. The example that you used with the restaurant was excellent!! I like how the quote uses the word "sliced" instead of simply crashed or hit.

April MInerd said:

I have similar problems with brevity in my writing, also. This class is teaching me ways to help remedy it; even though, like you, I don't consider “news” my ideal genre to write within, I see all the potential benefits from practicing and applying a journalistic style.
Oh, and the fact you associated that lead with Alanis Morissette makes it twice as funny.

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