Stop the Clock! Ten Tips for Time-starved Writers

by Jocelyn Green I should have known better. But when the local reporter came to interview me about my newly released novel, Wedded to War, I told her that my kids, ages 3 and 6, would be home with us, but that they “knew how to stay quiet.” Can you guess how that interview went? Let’s […]

Continue Reading

Ask the Director: How do I cite statistics?

Dear Director: Can you tell me, how important is it to document statistics presented in articles? Is it enough that the editor has those references, urls, quotes sources in her files? – Per Cent   Dear Per: The answer will vary depending on the publication and the article. If people turn to your publication for academic-quality […]

Continue Reading

Use Sidebars to Expand Without Overwhelming

by Doug Trouten

People love sidebars. These little morsels of content goodness act as side dishes to go along with the main course of your anchor story, adding useful and interesting material without overwhelming.

Sidebars can increase layout possibilities, especially for a story that is otherwise lacking artwork. Pulling material out of a main story for a sidebar can help trim the main story to a more manageable size. Somehow an 800-word story with three 200-word sidebars seems a lot less intimidating than a 1,400-word story. And if you’re a writer, including a sidebar or two on top of your story at the assigned length can be an effective way to “up-sell” an editor by offering attractive add-ons.

Here are some examples of sidebars you can create to go with a story.

Continue Reading

Avoiding ‘Christianese’ in Your Writing

“Christianese” is a language used in the Christian subculture and understood easily only by other practicing Christians. We say we’ve been born again, of talk about being backslidden. We talk about our walk and our quiet time. When you’re talking about the Christian experience, it’s tempting to slip into Christianese – it’s a language with verbal short-cuts to explain some difficult concepts. But if our hope is to communicate effectively with people outside the Christian community, we want to stay away from cliches and figures of speech that they may not understand, or may understand differently than we do.

Continue Reading

Lead Writing 101

by Mary Jackson As the print media takes a back seat to web-based publications, lead writing is an increasingly essential skill. When online, a reader often only sees the first sentence of an article and must click for more. Whether on paper or the computer screen, a lead serves as readers “first impression,” and must […]

Continue Reading

Them’s Fighting Words!

Stories that use these words are much more likely than others to be involved in libel suits. Calling someone a "coward" or a "fool" in print is a quick way to learn more about the judicial system than you really want to know. Here’s a list of "danger words" compiled by Bruce Sanford, counsel for the Society of Professional Journalists.

Continue Reading