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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Judging Your Writing

In the past two months, I have been asked to judge two contests: one for the Press Association of a neighboring state; the other, for a high school journalism contest. It's been an interesting process. I've had the opportunity to read several great articles and review design elements.

It doesn't matter if the content is generated by a 50-something editor or a novice high school journalist - good writing is good writing. Period.

Even though I received a list of criteria to look for in each instance, I also comprised a list of elements that make an article "pop." I put that list to the test. Consider it a checklist of basic principles that even seasoned writers sometimes overlook.

Here's what the list looks like:

  • Leads are dynamic and concise
  • Quotes are anecdotal
  • Paragraphs are short to enhance readability
  • Coverage "shows," not "tells"
  • Stories answer the 5 Ws and H (who, what, when, where, why, how), in addition to answering "So what?"
  • Unique angles are utilized for evergreen topics
  • Source attribution follows "source said" format and placement is varied throughout the article
  • Logical transitions are implemented
Do you always include these elements when penning an article? Sometimes, we writers are in a hurry to impress an editor and we forget the basics. I catch myself falling into this predicament every now and then. I become so engaged in the subject matter that I assume the reader knows what I am talking about.

No worries, now. By utilizing this cheat sheet, I know I have my bases covered...and an article my editor will love.

By LuAnn Schindler

1 comment:

  1. LuAnn--It never hurts to be reminded of the basics. Showing and not telling, and not overloading the reader with overly-long paragraphs is one I have to remember often--because I forget often.

    Thanks. Your post reminded me of a story I want to pursue.


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