Writing like a journalist means economizing on words and being specific with facts. Space is at a premium in publications, so limit your words. Further, details are necessary in reporting facts.
These are some examples on how to economize on words:
1) Wordy: At this point in time, investors should consider both their short-term and long-term goals.
Better: Currently, investors should consider short and long-term goals.
2) Wordy: According to John James, investors should consider buying shares of companies that have a lot of cash on hand, have little debt, and that offer good dividend payouts.
Better: John James said investors should consider companies rich in cash, with little debt, offering good dividends.
3) Wordy: At his job, he functions in an environment that is very high pressure.
Better: His office is a pressure-cooker.
4) Wordy: They were both born in the year 1929 in the city of Chicago, Illinois.
Better: They were born in 1929 in Chicago.
5) Wordy: He works as a psychologist as well as an attorney.
Better: He is a psychologist and attorney.
Next, let’s consider examples that illustrate the need to be specific.
1) Vague: He was born around the turn of the century.
Specific: He was born May 30, 2000.
2) Vague: Within a short period of time, the couple married.
Specific: In August, the couple married.
3) Vague: He was driving over the speed limit.
Specific: He was driving 50 in a 35 mph zone.
4) Vague: The survey was taken earlier this month.
Specific: The survey was taken July 1 and 2.
5) Vague: There were a large number of people registered for the event, but only 50 people actually attended.
Specific: There were 75 people registered for the event, but 50 attended.
Just when you think you’ve finished economizing on words, you’ll discover you could have cut back further. You can write tight, by letting your article sit for a day or so, and then you can look at it again with fresh eyes. And, don’t be lazy about reporting all the facts. Your readers can tell when you’ve cut corners.
For more help, check out my books. They are: Beginners’ Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features and You Can Be A Columnist.
Copyright 2014 by Charlotte Digregorio.