08. 05. 17 / Writing
Journ 101

I’ve forgotten how to write.

ICYMI, I started work last week as a writer for this broadcasting network’s news website. I’ve finally found a job where I can use what I learned in college but right as I started, I realized I’ve forgotten how to write decently. I used to be an editor for my uni’s official student newspaper, for christ’s sake! :lol:

So, here are a few writing tips to refresh my memory. They’re mostly for myself but feel free to take these unsolicited advice because they can be used for almost any kind of writing :)

  • Lead – this is the first sentence/paragraph of your article. Studies show that the human attention span is 8 seconds in average so your lead should be short but eye-catching. Otherwise, people would just scroll past it when they see it on their feed.

My professors actually recommend a limit of 30 words but Saitama’s advice is better.

An example of a lead.

  • The 5Ws and 1H – This tip is mostly for news articles. These stand for Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Most journalists put these in the lead as it’s all the information your reader needs but it could make it lengthy and we don’t want that so it’s best to keep these distributed in the first three paragraphs.
  • Nutgraf – is the second paragraph of your article and should keep your readers’ attention. It also should contain the supporting information to your lead.

An example of a nutgraf. It’s actually too long for my taste.

  • The 3 Cs – Your article should be clear, concise, and correct.
    • Clear – Firstly, it should be so simple that even grade-schoolers can read it. I’m not kidding, there’s actually a readability test that scores your writing and says what age group could read it. My blog could be easily read by 8 to 9-year-olds.
    • Concise – As mentioned previously, your article shouldn’t be lengthy. Simply because, as kids nowadays say it, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
    • Correct – Your article should be factual. Obviously, this is the number one rule in journalism. Don’t be a Kellyanne Conway and produce alternative facts. Do your research and include links for your readers.
  • Use verbs, not adjectives – When people write feature articles, they often make the mistake that you should use adjectives in order for your writing to be visual. However, verbs make so much more impact than adjectives.
    • Adjective: The President is the tallest man among his cabinet members.
    • Verb: The President towered over his cabinet members.
  • Be active – Use the active voice instead of passive as it shortens the sentence and goes straight to the point. In the words of George Orwell, “Never use the passive when you can use the active.”
    • Active: The President announced Martial Law.
    • Passive: Martial Law was announced by the President.
  • The inverted pyramid – This form of writing is usually used for news articles. The most important information is placed at the top while the background is placed at the bottom because your readers will most likely only read the first two paragraphs :lol: There are also other kinds of shape/forms of articles but they’re escaping me right now.

The inverted pyramid.

And there you have it. These are the only ones I can think off the top of my head but I think I’ll post more in the future as I try to recall what I learned in college. Hopefully, these tips helped you as well!



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18 Comments | Leave one? ⇡

    On May 9th, 2017, Nancy said,
  1. Glad you found something where you can utilize what you learned in school in your job :). I realized that a lot of the writing specs I learned in school kind of disappeared x___x. I can almost see why people are making those “___ ways on ____” as their article even though some of the posts can be pretty misleading. At least they have a good lead XD.

    I like the point you make about using verbs. The president towering others make a strong point. I feel like a lot of news these days miss the hook. I find myself closing the tab before reading the whole article @__@.

    Hope things will get easier as you adjust to your new work!

    [Reply]


  2. On May 9th, 2017, Eena said,
  3. This was a great read, Gillan! I didn’t think writing could be this complicated. Growing up, what I was accustomed to was the intro, body & conclusion, and of course the thesis and topic sentences and supporting ideas.. you get the idea.

    I’ve always struggled with active vs passive writing. I remember an English professor in my English 101 class in college tell me that while my writing was decent (hahaha as if!), what really brought my writing down was the voice I used in my essays. I’m a passive writer, not an active one, not sure why.

    Anyways, thanks for the tips. Bookmarked this!

    cabin twenty-four
    Eena recently posted Exploring BalboaMy Profile

    [Reply]


  4. On May 10th, 2017, Maroon Caludin said,
  5. I know how you feel. I felt I used to write so much better but am so out of practice! Thanks for sharing your tips!

    [Reply]


  6. On May 10th, 2017, Tannya Aditya said,
  7. this is great, gillan. thank you! the last picture was my to-go strategy in writing for years. i can’t believe it’s actually a thing! (note to self: thank your language teacher). i think in blogging it’s best to break your paragraph to 5-8 sentences. also maximize the use minor heading as point/main idea and expand from there. try to make your point across in two first paragraphs as they determine readers’ curiosity. but also be open to many styles of writing! i like to tell a little story first and work it from there as to give readers some perspective of what i’m going through. it will also seem like a diary and mostly it resonates the most with readers.

    don’t forget to check grammar before posting. there’s this extension called grammarly which is absolutely a savior for writers whose english not their first language. or check out hemingway app to help you shorten sentences and corrects the use of words in your writing.

    [Reply]

    On May 29th, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Tannya Aditya, thank you for these! I didn’t know there was a Grammarly extension, thanks for letting me know :heart: And a Hemingway app? You’re a saviour!

    [Reply]


  8. On May 14th, 2017, Pauline said,
  9. I think it’s pretty cool that you get to write for a broadcasting networking site. I think I saw it on your LinkedIn a few days ago and am really impressed you got that job! Well done, I bet it’s really worthwhile :-) Especially since you get to use what you learnt in college in real life. Well done :D

    I really enjoyed reading this, I think a lot of the tips you shared is applicable to the blogosphere which is pretty cool. I will definitley be using some of the tips on my future blog posts! E.g. leads. I think you can really capture certain auidences with a really eyecatching lead. I need to get better at this in terms of grabbing reader’s attention. :-)

    Thanks for sharing!
    Pauline recently posted Mornin’My Profile

    [Reply]

    On May 29th, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Pauline, thank you! I admire your LinkedIn page, btw! It’s so detailed and professional, I aspire to have a page like that one day ^^

    [Reply]


  10. On May 16th, 2017, Claudine said,
  11. Wow, this post brings back so much memories of high school! We were required to take a Journalism class in high school too, so I could relate to all the things you said! Sadly though, I never apply these tips anymore, hahaha maybe I should!

    PS: I sucked at writing leads in high school and usually wrote them last, when I’ve already completed the rest of the article lol XD
    Claudine recently posted Spring Semester so farMy Profile

    [Reply]

    On May 21st, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Claudine, I envy you! I never had any journalistic experience prior college haha
    Leads are a pain, tbh :lol:

    [Reply]


  12. On May 17th, 2017, Brandy said,
  13. Always trying to become a better writer and this definitely helped. Thank you for sharing!
    Brandy recently posted SCATTERBRAINEDMy Profile

    [Reply]


  14. On May 17th, 2017, Jeanne said,
  15. Congrats on the job! I quite enjoyed reading this post – a nice refresher on writing techniques.

    http://www.jeannieinabottleblog.com
    Jeanne recently posted Apple Picking: Pick a Pink Lady at Harrisville Orchards, South AustraliaMy Profile

    [Reply]

    On May 29th, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Jeanne, thank you so much, I’m glad to help!

    [Reply]


  16. On May 18th, 2017, Chynna said,
  17. Aahaha, girl I know exactly where you’re coming from. I picked up my figurative pen again and I took to my manuscript like, “YEAH LET’S DO THIS” only to come out with drivel. I do more creative writing, but recently I’ve been doing a bit of freelance writing for travel articles, so it has to be all profesh. So what came out was WAY too formal sounding. LOL.

    This list is so useful, though! I have another freelance project lined up and I struggled a bit with the last one because of the effing passive voice. Thank you for posting this, girl <3

    [Reply]

    On May 29th, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Chynna, travel and lifestyle articles are a pain for me because I’m also too formal in writing. I’m too “news-y” or straightforward that it sound’s robotic :lol:
    I’m glad to have helped! :heart:

    [Reply]


  18. On May 19th, 2017, Kim said,
  19. I took a ton of English classes but I’ve never been that great at writing! Maybe now, as an adult, I should review your tips and take another stab at it ;)

    Thanks!
    Kim
    Simply Lovebirds
    Kim recently posted Tortuguero Beach: A Jungle Paradise in Costa Rica!My Profile

    [Reply]

    On May 29th, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Kim, I’m glad to have helped! :heart:

    [Reply]


  20. On May 24th, 2017, Michelle said,
  21. That’s great your skill as a writer can be utilized finally! I remember a lot of that in school but it’s good to have a refresher course on it. Things will get better!

    [Reply]

    On May 29th, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Michelle, thank you! I’m glad they refreshed your memory ^^

    [Reply]