I won’t lie: I wasn’t excited about reading this. Writing books about writing is hard to accomplish in and of itself; it’s a whole other ballpark to make it enjoyable to read. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book was not only well-written, but interesting, and provided its information in concise language. Within twenty-some-odd pages, I had not only been given excellent information, but I absorbed it all.
The theme of this reading was “keeping things simple,” which is a task writers like myself often struggle with. As a journalist, my job is to give people all the information they need. As a creative writer, my job is to take the reader to the places I’m discussing. In theory, these two things work well together: the ability to communicate a news story and the ability to make the story “colorful”, as Knight describes in “Some Basic Guidelines for Developing Writing Skills.” Unfortunately, they often get the better of me.
In an attempt to give a reader all the information they need while also telling an engaging and visual story, I write too much. This is usually fixed by a lot of editing, both by myself and by my fellow editors. Though I’m improving, this chapter gave me several guidelines that will benefit me in writing my next piece.
I was deeply disturbed by the lack of the Oxford comma throughout the chapter.
From the Chicago Tribune.
The Bears loss hurt me, but the grammar error in this article adds insult to injury “was” “is”.
Keep it simple. That is the main message that I got from this chapter. Journalists are tasked with telling a story, accurately, in as few words as possible. It makes sense that cutting out all unnecessary words and phrases would help journalistic writers meet their deadlines. As a concept, it’s not exactly rocket science, but I can see how we are trained in literature classes to make our writing as wordy and over-done as possible in order to make ourselves sound educated. You don’t need to be wordy to sound informed. Why use 500 words to give information that could be conveyed in 50?
This chapter reminded me of a time I was told that Journalistic writing in like dealing with real estate. You’ve only got so much room to work with. There’s only so much space on a page, and a skillful journalistic writer knows how to best utilize this space to get their point across without too many extra words. Arguably, the most important piece of space to be utilized is the front of the house, because it is the first thing people see. Similarly, the lede is the first little sample of your writing that the audience gets to read. If it doesn’t grab their attention, then the rest of what you’ve written is pointless.
Throughout the first chapter, Knight talks about the need to not overthink your writing. I can understand this with most of my best work has come from just letting what I want to say flow and hardly ever using an outline. He puts an emphasis on the intro to your writing which is where I spend the majority of my time when writing. Its the foundation of your writing and allows you to keep it simple by just following it as a road guide. It will enable you to craft much work.
Building on this he also talks about the need to write to your audience. In many cases, students especially are trying to use oversized words to get a simple point across to sound smarter. This blocks off your audience by barring some people from being able to comfortably read this. I know in my experience that I’ve done this a few times to make myself sound better on a test. Much like in life it is much better to KISS it than to try and make something extra.
This chapter is handy when it comes to writing something. It shows some of the best practices you can use like building your intro or cutting out unneeded fluff. Its a very good foundation for good writing and and reminded me alot of the steps i need to take in my writing.
I used to be afraid of the written word. Now I embrace it.
When writing, I’ve always found myself to be naturally troubled. I’m not some Ernest Hemingway. Heck, I’m not even a Dr. Seuss. However, my writing can take me places nothing else can. Places that don’t even exist half of the time! I’ve learned that you can’t just take words and mash them together. You must weave them, burn them even, into the page. Or screen, if you’re into that.
Overall, the feel of the first chapter was very inviting and actually more helpful than I could’ve imagined. The K.I.S.S. principal spoken of in this book is very much appreciated and also cleverly worded. No one wants to read something they have to dig through and look at with a magnifying glass. They want to feel the words and understand them the first time around. Hearing things you don’t could possibly cause you to put down whatever it is you’re reading. Though, as the book also says, no one wants to be spoken to as a five year old except, well, an actual five year old. Think about how offensive it would be to read something with solely simple words.
The book also speaks of journalistic writers not focusing on adapting a style, but to work on “…developing writing skills.” Knight’s phrase speaks to me immensely because I most definitely have no style in writing. For years, I was worried about how my writing would come across to other people, mainly my important peers. Would they understand me? Had I made sense? Did I use a “flowey” enough word order. Well, as Knight says, the English language is gigantic and difficultly crafted, so there is no right or wrong way to say anything. Your style comes from the way your writing skills are developed. Long story short, everyone is different. Let’s be different together.
Writing, for me, was very difficult while I was in Elementary and Middle school. I could never force myself to sit down and finish my papers. Once I got to high school, however, I started taking advanced Language Arts and Literature classes so I was forced to learn the correct writing techniques involved in a good paper. This made me a better writer and I am confident now that I can produce a solid paper fairly quickly and efficiently. I hope to further my skills in Media Writing 1 and learn new techniques that I have not been taught yet.
Knight’s chapter 1 was very beneficial for me to read and I learned a lot from it. I especially liked the parts about audiences and effects of words. He writes that it is extremely important to understand the audience you are writing to, because you can better grab the reader’s attention and make sure the audience will focus in on your writing. Also, he talks about making the correct word choices, and how choosing words that make sense to the audience is very important.
It’s a bit of a perplexing idea, don’t you think? To read about writing and then write about what you just read. It feels like it should be a nursery rhyme or a ride at an amusement park. I think Knight is right, just write:
I did enjoy his dedication, to the students who helped him write the book. I can also relate to the lede method and vouch for it as the best meet-your-deadline method there is. I usually start most of my writing this way, ending up with at least something I can call my own. I am not sure how I feel about the ask mom process. In this house, I am the mom, so there’s that.
On the grammar and the vocabulary, this is where I hope to get the most out of this book. I hadn’t realized until I read it here, that the English language purposefully dropped the sex of objects as it is commonly used in foreign languages. This is a plus in my book. Figuratively speaking, mais bien sur!
Generally speaking, I look forward to future chapters, as the read is easy and broken down quite clearly. Knight’s first chapter keeps the door open, suggesting, that yes, anyone can write.