Wednesday, September 07, 2011

How to write like a journalist.

Want to know how to write like a journalist? Read journalism.

Sounds obvious, but there's really no better way. You don't need to know what a "lede" or a "nut graph" or a "dek" or a "narrative arc" or a "kicker" are if you can internalize the flow of a good news story. Spot news or feature, op/ed or news analysis, the best way to be a better writer is to surround yourself with good writing -- then read it.

Read Associated Press stories each day to internalize hard news. Read stories in a magazine's feature well to internalize a good (or bad!) lede, a narrative arc and how to string together 3,000 words to make them feel like a more fleeting 300. Read weekly columnists to see how they support an argument without venturing off on a book-length tangent.

A good editor can hold your hand on a tour through these examples by breaking down what makes them tick. But he or she can't help you absorb the steps, pivots and leaps that make good prose memorable.

It only comes with practice. And it starts with reading.


Tom | Transcription Place said...

I agree. Reading articles related to your niche is the best way to learn how to excel at writing in the appropriate style. Maybe I will be a good suspense novelist one day ;-)

Aabida Allaham said...

straight to the point...great piece

Investigative Transcription said...

Yes, reading good posts with writing habits will be a plus point for journalists. Good vocabulary is needed to express yourself in a better way and writing style is needed to convince the readers the way you want.