HOW TO WRITE SO EDITORS DON’T HATE YOU

 

This post can be found here

As a writer, it pains me to say that I don’t always know exactly what people will gravitate to and read, instead, I try and identify the type of story a publication would choose to print, or not. While editing yesterday evening,  my frustration became so intense that I recalled  a post from Women in PR, “PR Pro habits Journalists Despise”,  which prompted me to write this piece. The WIPR post stems from Katie Burke’s “S%*t PR People Do That Journalists Hate”.

Now, I’m no Katie Burke, but as a young editor, I feel compelled to express the s%*t writers do that makes me hate them.

1. Write with purpose.
There is nothing worse than being handed an article with all the meat but no veggies or complex carbs. We’re hungry for compelling material, so make a healthy balanced meal out of it. Create a general outline of your story, then decide on its purpose.  If you are having a hard time populating your outline, that could be an indication to either, choose a new angle or trash the story.

2. Ditch the question marks.
Only ask a question when it is a legitimate one.
How would that make you feel? Could this path be for you? You as a writer should write to make me feel, however that I should or convince me that path is my destiny. Stop the “what if?” madness and give us all something to chew on.

3. It’s all about me.
If you are writing a narrative, by all means, recount your journey and experiences, but if your article is supposed to be about herbalism or the history of pancakes—which is quite interesting if I may add—don’t make it about you. It seems it takes an eternity to turn those egomaniacal comments into quotes or supporting facts. I don’t know about you, but who wants to take an eternity on anything.

4. Going comma crazy.
Gone are the days of commas and semi-colons. When appropriate,  connect long thoughts, with a long dash. The article will appear more neat overall.

5. Pay attention.
Review the general writing style of the publication you are submitting to. If the articles don’t contain bullet point lists, first person narrative or funky fonts,  don’t bother sending your story over in poor shape. Great writers have the supreme ability to adapt, don’t be afraid to show off.

6. The guessing game.
Don’t write as if you were talking. Your ideas should be communicated clear and concise, so they won’t be misinterpreted. Also, avoid the use of seemingly common phrases—no one wants to Google every quirky thing you have to say, to determine if it’s tasteful.

7. Act like a writer, think like an editor.
Friendly and accessible writers, that are understanding and genuinely open to improve, get first priority in my book. These writers win you over with their persistence, charisma and of course, precise writing style. Before you have the chance to ask, they already have the answer—be it a quote, supporting graphic or the occasional reminder that any piece they submit comes with a “no piss off” guarantee.

Writers and editors, what are some other things that drive you crazy? How can we fix them?

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Comments

  1. I am a journalist with a PR degree, so I am typically patient in reading releases. However, two things really get under my skin. I hate having to change things to AP style. PR writers should research the accepted styles of his/her industry or the publications to which you pitch. It’s a journalist’s job to fill in the blanks, but it’s annoying when have to look up every acronym you’ve used in a release because the writer didn’t add the meanings. Additionally, publications tend to discard words like best, leading, and greatest –unless they are proven within the release.

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