Immediately Improve Your Writing Skills With These 5 Simple Tips
Your Writing Skills With
These 5 Simple Tips
When I was a kid, I loved to tell stories.
I would sit in my room for hours writing in my journal, and I quickly realized I was pretty good at using words to explain things and tell people how I feel. Thankfully, now I write every day.
In my opinion, writing is the most important part of reporting. If you’re not focused on your writing, you should be.
As a weekend anchor, I approve scripts on a regular basis. I do my best to teach reporters how to improve their writing and find their own style. So today I’m sharing a few simple tips I give to my reporters, to help improve your writing immediately.
1. Write like you talk.
Most people wouldn’t say, “After the altercation, the suspect fled on foot.” That’s cop-talk, and you shouldn’t be putting it in your scripts.
Instead, you should say, “After the fight, police say the man/woman ran away.”
There are a lot of words and phrases you should never use again while you’re writing scripts. Here are just a few of them:
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Instead, say this:
The man/woman didn’t have a gun/weapon
One way to make things easier is to pretend you’re telling the story to your mom or your best friend. How would you describe the scene to them? That’s how you should tell your viewers.
2. Get rid of filler words.
Every word should have a purpose. Get rid of the word “that.” Most of the time, you don’t need it.
❌“The man said that he didn’t know what to do.”
✅“The man said he didn’t know what to do.”
The second sentence is tighter, and has the exact same meaning as the first sentence.
Another filler is “able to.” Stop using it!!
❌“The firefighter was able to rescue the kitten.”
✅“The firefighter rescued the kitten.”
Again, the second sentence is tighter.
3. Short sentences are best.
For TV news, short sentences work the best. Keep each sentence down to ten words or less, if possible.
Make sure your sentences are easy to understand, and only put one thought in each sentence. You want viewers to understand exactly what you’re saying. The viewer should never be confused.
A professor once told me to keep my writing at a 7th grade level, so write your sentences as if you’re talking to a middle schooler.
4. Hook the viewer immediately.
Why should I listen to your live shot? Why should I sit down to watch your package? Let the viewer know immediately what you’re going to tell them.
❌Don’t say: “WXYZ’s Jane Doe is live at the scene with the latest.”
✅Instead, say: “WXYZ’s Jane Doe tells us what piece of evidence the suspect left behind.”
If you tell people what you’re going to show them, they’re more likely to pay attention.
5. Use the right words!
Make sure you know the difference between a burglary and a robbery.
Don’t say someone is going to jail if they’re really going to prison. If you call someone a suspect, make sure they really are a suspect. Always use “more than” instead of “over”, and not all homicides are murders.
Words are important, and using the wrong one can have a big impact. So do your research!