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Just the facts, ma'am

"Clear writing packs power."
--English Essay vs. News Story

While there certainly are differences between academic and news writing, I think the thing that they really have in common is the above quote. I think any kind of good writing ought to have the kind of simplistic clarity shown in both the English essay and news story examples in this section. Unless you're writing a novel, short story, or play featuring a character who talks in overblown sentences, you should say whatever you need to say in the most compact series of words possible. Even when you're writing a character who doesn't speak simply and directly, you still need to accomplish that character trait in a succinct manner; you don't want to have the whole play be about a character who rambles endlessly. But I digress. Anytime you're writing as yourself and not a character, it's probably best to condense what you have to say down to a very few words using very specific action verbs. You are on display, after all, so you want to show off your best writing. And the best kind of writing is writing that doesn't put you on display, so it's kind of confusing. Anytime you're trying to use flowery language or complex sentences to show off how brilliant you are, you're standing between the reader and the message you really want to convey. This is a big no-no, especially in journalism, where people usually don't read an article based on who has written it. They just want the information without any frilly crap. Now when you're writing an editorial, I can imagine that you would be able to inject a little bit more of an individual voice in your writing. But you still only have so much space, so you still need to cut all the unnecessary words. See, like "still," I used that twice there, I didn't need to do that. Anyway, the point is, this blog is rambling and probably full of unnecessary words, so one must never write an article like this.

Comments (1)

Jennifer Prex:

Clear and concise writing is necessary for all forms of writing. And I agree that this is especially the case in journalism, since people just want the facts. If an article would be one long ramble, the facts would be lost amidst a bunch of useless information and people would get annoyed. In journalism, authors just need to say what they need to say and leave it at that. Easier said than done in certain cases, I'm sure, but necessary.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 1, 2009 4:25 PM.

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