Think Like a Journalist, Write Like an Editor: Tips from the Pros

Ernest Hemingway famously said, ‘All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ For George Orwell, ‘Good prose should be transparent, like a window-pane.’ In this special guest post, Justin Osborne offers some top tips for writers drawn from the wisdom of the great and the good of the world of letters.

Writing is not always a skill that comes naturally to people. While it can be a struggle for some people more than others, there are a few standard techniques everyone can use to create engaging pieces. These methods, directly from expert journalists and editors, are designed to help both seasoned writers and everyday people create the best writings possible.

Know Your Audience

Just as you have your own voice when you speak, the content you write has its own style that you have developed over time. Typically, you’re accustomed to using informal language with family and friends, while you might sound more professional with coworkers, managers, and other high-powered leaders. Journalists and editors alike understand the importance of writing in a way that is catered to your audience. Before you begin to write, honestly consider to whom you are speaking and the voice you would like to use.

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‘The Smallness of the World’: Dickens, Reynolds and Mayhew on Wellington Street

In this special guest blog post, Dr Mary Shannon writes about the remarkable London street where a number of noted Victorian journalists worked

Last week, I turned a street corner near Oxford Circus and bumped into a friend from university who I had not seen in a good while. We both exclaimed at the coincidence which had brought us both to this same spot at the same time. If one of us had chosen a different route, or been delayed by a few minutes, we would never have even been aware that we had been in such close proximity. What a chance encounter, we both exclaimed, in a city of 10 million people.

And yet, when I thought about it afterwards, the encounter was not so much of a co-incidence after all. The same factors which made us friends in the first place (age, interests, values) brought us to the same city and then made us familiar with the same areas of it: the same locations, the same streets. Our work and social lives brought us to similar places, week in, week out; it was only a matter of time before we crossed paths again. This kind of encounter is not unusual, I think, for many people who live in London. This may be a city of strangers, but it is also a collection of villages, and on a surprisingly regular basis I find myself bumping into friends on busy tube station platforms, on bridges, and at the theatre. When you share similar interests and lifestyles, London can begin to feel like a much smaller place. When you work in the same part of London, it feels localised. When you work on the same street, it feels simultaneously large and small at the same time.

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