Day Three of Summer School – a writer’s experience By Choncey

C. A. DuBois —  July 10, 2013 — Leave a comment

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The climate may have cooled today but the temperature within the office has certainly risen on our third day working towards the production of the Discovery season brochure as our first drafts of our articles return to us, ready for their second drafting and the realism of our position sinks in. As a writer, and I’m sure my fellow writers shall agree with me, that although writing is wonderfully exciting, writing about events and projects we have never seen (and some which don’t even exist yet!) is certainly testing our skills and nerves. There’s an strange sense of excitement behind such a project, however this yin is balanced by a yang of sheer fear and dread that we are at risk of not presenting these fantastic events to their full credibility due to our access to limited information which results in a degree of unchangeable ignorance.

However today we were blessed by the presence of Erica, a freelance journalist who kindly came to offer her advise on writing attained from her years of experience as a freelance journalist. Erica, whose hailed from Staffordshire, who started in studying Fashion Journalism, currently works for the Daily Mail, monitoring the comments left by readers on their online paper.

Erica gave some fantastic tips for how to be a good writer as a whole with a checklist of ideas to follow when writing our articles.

If one wishes to persure journalism, it’s important to be broad with your topics of interest.
Erica also explained the different types of articles a journalist can write – news stories (which have important information at top first before being cut off, and are factual rather than colourful), Feature articles (which are personal discussions of a topic by a writer), Interviews, Opinion pieces or columns (which are often written by celebrities, however, apparently they aren’t usually written by the celebrity at all but someone else!), Puffs (an image lead, small text extract beside a photo), Advertorials and Round ups (commonly found in fashion magazines and involve compilation pieces, which are quotes from people giving an opinion on the theme).
Remember the five Ws: Who what when where and why
Intro should be snappy, no more than 38 words
Get inspiration from books and other articles
Endings should mirror the introduction
Add lots of quotes to bulk up your creative article. Should be added as soon as possible to give credibility to article. Also use quotes to illustrate your point
Dictaphones should be used when interviewing (they’re also known to be essential when working for local newspapers)
Have to think about images when freelancing, nothing expert but needed but 400dpi quality.
Don’t start sentences with ‘the or I’, but you can use ‘but and and’ at beginning of sentences. Also use contractions to make it conversational.
Make pieces topical
Use present tense only.
Dictionaries and thesauruses must be used always
Always persevere – start writing for free to begin with and try and build on that.
Keep a blog to impress people, and keep up with twitter.
A BA isn’t necessary, there are short courses available for anyone to take to learn journalistic skills.

Erica then took time to give us feedback on our articles, ultimately giving us an invaluable experience – as I believe we all needed to hear the feedback professional eye over our work to settle our nerves before our little writings face the big, scary world of readers! I wish I could thank Erica again for the experience, because it certainly boosted my confidence and she offered wonderful advice which shall help us all peruse careers in writing after this project (hopefully!).

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