Writing Workshop “Writing comes in grades of quality in the fashion of beer and baseball games – good, better and best.” James Kilpatrick, author and syndicated columnist
Writing Workshop • “I believe large numbers of people have at least some talent as writers and storytellers, and that those talents can be strengthened and sharpened.” Stephen King, author • “When you catch me an adjective, kill it.” Mark Twain, author • “An adjective hasn’t been born yet that can pull a noun out of a tight spot.” E.B. White, author
Writing Workshop Research papers, newspaper articles and magazine stories transfer facts from a variety of sources to the reader. But good writing also encourages the reader to think about what the writer has written – to react to the writer’s analysis – to open his or her mind to new ideas. A good research paper provides a well-thought out perspective of key issues related to the topic.
Picking a Topic • Make sure there is an adequate amount of reference material readily available • Pick a topic that is challenging and interesting • Have an grasp of the topic so you can understand and interpret important and relevant issues
Getting Started For whatever your task, complete a proposition statement, one sentence that explains your topic clearly and concisely. This provides focus and direction.
Getting Started ESPN is television’s world-wide leader in sports.
Getting Started ESPN has increased the role of sports in American culture with its constant coverage of events, athletes and others associated with professional and amateur athletics.
Getting Started Oprah Winfrey is the most powerful woman in television.
Getting Started Oprah Winfrey can make or break a novel, send a movie soaring at the box office and create dinner conversation out of taboo social ills.
Organization Organization is the internal structure of your writing – the skeleton that holds the whole piece together. Organize by space, time or content. An outline of three or four main points often helps you do this. Those main points should also help support your proposition statement.
Organization • Oprah’s book club selections consistently rank among the top 10 best-selling books in the country. • Hollywood celebrities make Oprah’s syndicated talk show the first stop on their publicity tours. • Oprah’s frank discussions of child sexual abuse, AIDS prevention, spouse abuse and illegitimacy have made those topics household and public conversations.
Organization • ESPN offers sports coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week and reaches 70 million homes. • The ESPN brand name dominates the sports world with its television and radio programming, website and magazine. • Athletes, coaches, athletic administrators and fans consider ESPN the defining word on sports news and information.
The Lead The lead of an article serves as its headline. Strong leads capture the reader’s attention and provide an enticing clue to the theme of the story. A lead may be the proposition statement or a version of it.
The Lead On the morning of September 29, 1995, a number of individuals gathered in the East Room of the White House. The University of Notre Dame has attained a tradition of excellence that is unparalleled by competing universities.
The Lead The glory, the Golden Dome and Touchdown Jesus are all you have to know when it comes to the Notre Dame football program and television. Ted Turner is an interesting man.
Writing with Style and Clarity Good writing is clear and concise, lively and thought-provoking. Writing well takes time, patience and practice.
Sentence Fluency Avoid choppy writing by varying sentence length. Some should be short and simple, some complex. But no sentence should be 60 words! Rambling, wordy sentences confuse the reader.
Sentence Fluency Prompted by the threat of government sanctioning through the FCC, Arthur Taylor, a CBS executive, conceived of a system of protecting children from adult content by having all the networks agree to a timetable when only those programs deemed acceptable for family viewing were to be aired between the hours of 7 and 9 p.m.
Sentence Fluency Average sentence length should be between 12 and 15 words. Add rhythm by interspersing a short sentence among a longer one. Use different types of sentences – simple, compound, complex and compound-complex.
Sentence Fluency Johnny Carson dominated late-night television. (subject-verb-object) Americans invited Carson into their bedrooms every night, but he was never an intruder. (two or more independent clauses) Because of his flawless timing, Carson delivered a one-liner with flair and precision. (one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses) At Carson’s request, NBC allowed him to work just three nights a week, and several comedians filled in as guest hosts. (two or more independent clauses and at least one independent clause)
Transitions Good writing flows – from one idea to the next. Don’t let the reader stumble or ask, “Huh?” Create smooth transitions from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph. Don’t be afraid of connecting words or phrases. above, beneath, next, later, but, however, besides, even though, for example, finally
Transitions Rupert Murdoch used to own newspapers. Then he wanted to get into television. He bought some stations. He started his own network. Now he reaches billions of people.
Paragraphs Paragraphs should contain a single theme or idea. When you finish that idea – move on to the next paragraph. Don’t be afraid to write a one-sentence paragraph. That’s okay!
Paragraphs Ted Turner had a dream of creating a cable network that would focus on all news all the time. Although critics said the network would fail, CNN signed on in 1980 and has been giving traditional broadcast networks a run for their news money. CNN has changed the way networks and local stations cover news in many ways. CNN became the leader in covering live events. Many networks and stations feel they have to cover live events just because they can. Being first has become more important than being right to many news directors. CNN also forced networks and local stations to create exclusive graphics packages for their newscasts.
Style As a writer, place yourself in the background. Use words efficiently and effectively. Be clear, concise and focused. Write in a voice and tone that come naturally. Rely on nouns and verbs as the building blocks of your sentences. Then add appropriate adjectives and adverbs. But make every word carry its weight.
Style Do not overwrite. . .and do not overstate. Do not inject your opinion – unless you are writing a column or an editorial – or have been asked for it.
Helpful Hints Make sure your subject and verb are in agreement. Singular subjects require singular verbs. Plural subjects require plural verbs. Know the difference.
Helpful Hints Make sure the pronoun matches its antecedent and avoid confusing pronoun references. Most of the events were on NBC, but they advertised for viewers to switch over to their cable stations if they wanted to see more coverage.
Helpful Hints Avoid misplaced modifiers. There reaches a point, however, when the liquor companies are not responsible for minors’ actions, but their parents.
Helpful Hints Avoid redundancies in words and phrases. The optimum time in which to advertise on TV is during primetime, which is from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. in Eastern Standard Time.
My Favorite Redundancies Easter Sunday Young baby Posh resort High-powered rifle Agricultural crops Lonely hermit Violent explosion True facts Personal friend Mutual cooperation Totally destroyed
Helpful Hints Eliminate unnecessary prepositions and prepositional phrases. In order to, at this point in time, for the purpose of, by reason of, in the immediate vicinity
Helpful Hints Avoid vague words – nice, big, special, great Strong action verbs beat passive verbs every time. Fox is the network ratings leader for February. Fox dominates the primetime ratings in February.
Helpful Hints Avoid general assumptions. NBC-Universal owns 24 TV stations as well as CNBC, the global leader in business news. These days reality television is the norm on every network working within the realm of entertainment.
Helpful Hints Know the difference between: Its, It’s There, Their, They’re Two, Too, To Affect, Effect Infer, Imply, Lay, Lie Sit, Set
Helpful Hints Endings are important. It’s your last chance to leave a good impression on your reader and summarize the most important parts of your paper.
How Do I Become A Better Writer? • Read • Write Letters • Read What You Wrote – Out Loud! • Revise – Then Revise Again • Have Someone Else Read What You Wrote – Out Loud! • Pay Attention To Detail • Proofread – Don’t Rely on Spellchecker • Cut The Fat