*This article was written and edited by Tracey Spicer’s mentee Natalie Scanlon
BECAUSE WORDS ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN PEN AND PAPER.
As a journalist, it’s so incredibly important to do more than put pen to paper. The research, drafting, writing, proofreading and editing are all pieces of the journalism puzzle that begin to align only after hours of work and ambition.
But, amongst the current masses of digital and printed information, it’s common for these delicately crafted pieces to get lost amongst the chaos.
There is information everywhere.
That’s part of the reason why every journalist must develop a personal writing style that sings through the words written on the page. Think of it as the voice that narrates the article to the reader. This is the tone that injects emotion into a written piece, and allows the reader to connect with the message on the page.
Your written ‘voice’ ignites the reader’s interest in a story, and encourages them to continue reading and take action.
It’s incredibly important to develop your writing style early. This includes a combination of tone of voice, perspective, sentence structure and flow.
Here are just three of the ways that a journalist can find their writing style so that their words are read and not missed;
Developing a Lede
Journalists must learn how to create strong ledes. A lede is the opening of an article that captures attention and gives the reader a reason to continue reading. It is often used in a feature article that helps to paint the picture of a story, place or person.
There are several ways to go about writing a lede, and ultimately the path will be decided by the journalist’s writing style. There are straight news ledes, anecdotal ledes, first-person ledes, scene-setting ledes, and even zingers. Go with the one that best matches the voice of the article and the voice of the writer. With this combination, the article will flow and readers will follow.
Do the Research
Before writing, the first thing any journalist must do is research. Gathering information is an essential part of journalism, and it’s impossible to write a significantly impactful article without putting in the hard yards and researching first. Some may even say that the research is far more important than writing the words.
Researching can include anything from completing web searches to finding witnesses and conducting interviews. Remember that there is more than one way to find information for an article, and that there is a lot of information online that isn’t factually correct. A journalist will utilise strong sources and articles or academia to substantiate their written contention. This contention then forms part of the writer’s voice, allowing for the article to remain consistent.
Finding an Angle
Finding an angle in journalism is all about finding what makes a story newsworthy. What makes your article worth reading? Who is your reader and what are they interested in? When will they be reading your piece? There are many different things to consider when finding the angle that works best to get your message across.
The angle will dictate the voice and overall tone of the article. A news story is going to read differently to a human interest story, and a feature article will read differently again. All will have substantiated arguments that align with a specific angle. This angle is often mentioned alongside the lede, providing direct insight into what the reader can expect throughout the written piece.
With every word that you write your skill set will develop, and consequently your writing ‘voice’ and style will get stronger. Just remember that the voice of your words will echo powerfully in the mind of your reader.
And that’s exactly where you want your voice to be.
Now, where’s the pen?
This article was originally published on TraceySpicer.co