During 2013, dozens of talented writers are joining me to cheer you on in your storytelling. These guest-writers will share a few helpful words with you right here every Tuesday night, to encourage you as you #TellHisStory. (Come back after midnight to link up your story by clicking here.) And now, I’m delighted to introduce you to my longtime friend, and one of the finest news editors I ever had, Randy Essex.
Randy Essex, senior editor/news,
When it was time to register for ninth grade, I got my first chance to choose an elective class. My mom said, “You write pretty well. You should take journalism.”
Mom was wise. I feel good when I’m working and playing with words. I was a poor, unathletic kid with crummy clothes, and writing turned out to be something I was good at.
When I was 17, after some perceived slight, I stayed up all night and wrote a stream of consciousness about how I felt and what I thought and what I thought I wanted.
By dawn, I was determined to not let the bastards beat me. I wrote that. I won’t let the bastards beat me. Sparkling prose.
Writing, then, has served as a cheap therapist for me and given me an editing career that has allowed me to touch a lot of really amazing writing.
Here’s some of what I’ve learned:
Get to the point. Let readers know early on why this is worth their time.
Write simply. Simple writing isn’t simple thinking.
Avoid using negatives (not, won’t, don’t, can’t) and sentences starting with and and but.
Good writing doesn’t draw attention to itself. It communicates and sparks the imagination through ideas and imagery.
Every word matters. Every sentence matters. Practice precision.
Always have an ending, even if I don’t.
Randy Essex is the senior editor/news at the Cincinnati Enquirer. You can find him on Twitter here.