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.
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.
I’m going to take the book’s advice and just write the lede. The lede should be simple and to the point. It should take advantage of the English Language, but avoid fillers when possible. Most importantly, it should tell the reader, and the writer, exactly what they are about to get themselves into. This style of writing also happens to be the exact opposite of what college students have written all their lives. Yikes!
I rewrote every sentence so far because I added words. I sounded smarter , but the lede suffered. Every paper I wrote from Middle school on had a page or word count. If I write a ten page paper, I might make my point on page six. A student that writes more than the requited words is considered a better student than the six page student. So, I learned to give as much detail as I could. It has its place, especially in scientific or academic writing, but not in journalism or in many professions that rely on clear and speedy communications. Word count does not equal quality.
A journalist avoids telling too many stories at once. I like to tell as many as I can in one paper. It fills space and I can tell the reader all my thoughts. Essays need this. But I never learn to simplify my statements. Otherwise, they stay complex and unclear, even to myself. I need a clear image of what I am writing about if I’m going to write like a journalist.
So, I’ll learn. I just hope that by learning to simplify my writing, I can still write a ten page paper for finals.
Keeping something simple can be a pain for some. I as a person can relate to this as I harbor a deep love for the complex. Complex stories and moral ambiguities however are best kept to the stories of books and games. In a news report being simple can help to get a point across at a faster pace allowing you to present you’re points support the report being written.
By setting a lead a writer is able to clarify the reason behind the report and set a tone for the paper as a whole. Without this lead information can get jumbled, requiring the reader to look deeper into a subject to understand more. Knight makes it clear that a strong vocabulary should be used when writing to readers to keep them hooked on everything you write. Doing this allows you to create a rapport with the reader, allowing you to find an audience that fits your topics the most.
The points Knight makes throughout the chapter on writing in a journalistic manner are insightful, giving pointers and advice that will hopefully allow me to grow as a writer.