Thursday, October 26, 2006


To succeed you must make your piece jump out of a newspaper or magazine by being more diverting than everyone’s else’s piece. You must find some way to elevate your act of writing into an entertainment. Usually this means giving the reader an enjoyable surprise. Any number of methods will do the job: humor, anecdote, paradox, and unexpected quotation, a powerful fact, an outlandish detail, a circuitous approach, an elegant arrangement of words. These seeming amusements in fact become your “style.” When we say we like a writer’s style, what we mean is that we like his personality as he expresses it on paper. Given a choice between two traveling companions—and a writer is someone who asks us to travel with him—we usually choose the one who we think will make an effort to brighten the trip.

--William Zinsser, On Writing Well, p. 276

Tricia’s Thoughts:

One of my favorite books to write was “Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom” (Zondervan). Written for teenage mothers, my style had to be conversational and fun. I hunted for interesting quotes and illustrations. I added quizzes and humor to make my book interesting, yet also able to connect with readers. The book works because I cared about making my ideas for helping teen moms entertaining. It’s a tactic I carried over to my other non-fiction writing projects.


Blogger Jim Thompson said...

Ah, but isn't "jump" or "punch" or "impact" the difference between a hack and a writer? Anyone with a mental age of two or better can put words together to get their meaning across, but it takes a writer to make readers care.

6:30 PM  

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