- By Andrew Morris
- Published 03/24/2008
- Article Writing
An old news pro once told me, “Kid, if it isn’t newsworthy, we’re not going to print it”. I am dating myself with the above quote that reaches back into the dark ages of the manual typewriter. But I have remembered it over the years. Another way of stating the same thought I learned from my dad, “When in doubt, play it silent”. My father was commenting on excess dialog in a scene, however, both men gave me a lesson of a lifetime. If I do not have something to say that is feature worthy, then I do not say or write it. What is it that you have to say that is lead news material? That is not criticism since I do not know you, rather advice. But have you adequately researched what you want to write about.? And if you have, do you have an idea of the title, subject and flow of the article? Are you writing simply because you are inspired, or have you done your homework and discovered if there is a market for your words? That is not to say you should not have a blog: please do, and write what you will and as often as you like. But in this article we are discussing the business of writing. Have you checked if the larger news agencies are accepting submissions? If they are, do they require an upfront pitch or sample of your style?
What is happening in the world right this minute? Use that information to write something that is timely and gives a new slant to an old topic. If it is Christ
mas, then an article about Independence Day might not carry the same weight as it would in mid-summer. You are a writer, so use your noggin to figure out ahead of time where to spend your time and energy. Assuming you have taken care of the above, researched your topic, planned a good title and flow, will you be writing from experience or interviewing people with either good or bad information about your subject or product? If so, I applaud your organizational skills. Many writers including this one are long on creativity and short on organization. If you are going to write a feature article, all your facts, quotes, interviews need to be within easy reach, and data needs to be checked and double-checked. I not talking about grammar or punctuation. If you are a pro, that should be second nature, but are the details really facts or just fabrications? Make certain: if you are wrong, it could affect your reputation far into the future. Are you the type of writer who is succinct or long on prose? Either is fine, as long as you meet the editorial requirements. Some editors are looking for “to the point” information while others may prefer a longer, flowing style of writing.
All good stories and articles contain a well-researched and written beginning, middle and end. This is something that guides the reader by the hand through the story to its completion. If you have done your job well, the reader will finish reading with a slight smile knowing they have read and learned something fresh and informative.