Troy Kirby

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Basics

I’ve been working on a lot of different writing components lately. It has helped me understand the difference between dialogue and placement of characters, as well as the technical portion of how names and places fit into a story as well as paragraph description. You’ve got to take a step back once in a while, see what is out there, and really form your writing back to the basics. If you don’t, it tends to get sloppy, even on the last draft where you finally believe you have something.

My latest effort has been writing more journalism style prose. The type that you find in those rags called newspapers which are on actual paper. I know, that’s so 1980! It’s too bad that we don’t look at those efforts as keys to good writing. Because you had only one shot at it. Even typing at a keyboard is easy because a word processor can erase a bad sentence. With a typewriter, you had white-out, meaning you had to retype the entire page again.

It’s that “back to basics” mentality of newspaper journalism form that most writers haven’t experienced. But the contextual side of things is good stuff in the manner of learning, which you do every day, even if you swear you don’t. Either you learn bad habits or good ones, your choice in what you do with your time.

Journalism writing is simple. It is on a sixth grade level of writing and reading. The inverted pyramid was developed in the 1850s, when it was important to get as much information out as possible in the top of the story, lest a telegraph wire was snapped and the story didn’t make it to the home press. Three sentences or less make a paragraph. First off is a lead, then a supporting sentence, than finally a sentence which sums up the top two sentences with any remaining information.

Writers should attempt to use all different forms of the art. If you are a journalist, you should practice writing poetry or novel description. The same can be said for the reverse. It’s all back to basics and helps you learn, and in the end, improves what writing you have to show to the world.

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