In class tonight we had a guest co-lecturer, Professor Piacente's colleague, Carol Buckland. Carol studied political science as an undergrad and received a masters in international relations with an emphasis on international communication. She spent the majority of her career at CNN focusing on American politics and special events. At CNN she was the Senior Editorial Editor for Larry King Live. She is now working at the Communications Center. She specializes in writing and says writing has always been her skill. She said, "If you can write, you can write your own ticket." After the brief introduction, the class went over the fire story we wrote last class.
Takeaways from the the fire story
1. Passive vs. Active - write in active voice... "I've attached the story" instead of "Attached is the story."
2. Over-explaining is a default setting for people, writers who over-explain run the risk of condescension, most readers can infer certain details.
3. Include a transition between quotes - it can be confusing for the reader to have back to back quotes.
4. The preferred verb for attribution is "said" not "stated" or any other attributive word.
5. Use quotes exactly.
6. Unnecessary speculation - ending a story is hard, but don't put yourself in the story.
7. Don't forget the -30- at the end of a story to indicate the editor has reached the end.
8. The 2nd and subsequent paragraphs are to be no more than 2 sentences or 1 thought.
The class then went over problems with grammar and indicated some of their largest concerns with grammar. We watched a video with Weird Al, which included some of the most common and annoying grammatical issues.
Carol and professor then went over the most common grammatical errors and offered advice to ask for the style guide for the organization we are working for. If there is no style guide, use the most conservative style of writing as possible.
These errors included:
- Subject must agree with the verb - the most common error is a singular verb with a plural noun
- Active vs passive - active is preferred. With active, the subject is performing an action and with passive the subject is the recipient. We all had a good time vs a good time was had by all.
- Simplify writing!! (we then worked on simplifying our writing)
- Parallel structures
- Lists after colons - makes easier for reader to follow writing, if not, break down sentences
- Lay vs Lie - lay = to be put down - lie = to recline/stretch
- Dangling modifiers - words/clauses that add description - modifier should be close to what it is modifying
- Most importantly, read out loud and trust your instincts
- Transitions are like glue, use them. Newspapers with space limits may not use as much, but they give little flag posts when people are reading
Joy Baker Story Notes
- Who/What/When/Attribution from official source are the most important and should be in the lead
- The story is now DUE WEDNESDAY AT 5PM --> Professor will edit them with tracking changes and send them back before next class
- Reminder to read paper and check emails everyday
Other Homework for Monday
- Read Chapters 5-7, Page 12 1.13 on Brevity, 1.14, 1-5 & pg 63 4.1 - can do in workbooks