The Buttry Diary- Make every word count: Tips for polishing and tightening copy

April 18, 2012

Steve Buttry emphasizes the ability for writing tight stories in order to hold the reader’s attention. Buttry stresses the following key tips that make for better, tighter writing.

  • Write for the reader, not the source
  • Include only the most important information. Don’t bore the reader with excess information.
  • Don’t cram all the information into a single story. Make use of sidebars, databases, follow-up stories and links.
  • Start writing your story as you report and interview sources.
  • Decide what you want the reader to get out of your story and keep the end in view as you write.
  • Read the copy aloud to identify wordy sentences and extraneous information.
  • Use your words wisely and check each sentence.
  • Active verbs help shorten sentences.
  • Avoid imprecise words such that try to enhance words.
  • Don’t use inflated or extravagant language.
  • Catch redundancy in words, facts and quotes.
  • Ask yourself what the story is about.
  • Avoid the following: there is, there’s, there are, there was, there were, there will be, there could have been, it is, is, are, am, was, were, been, being, very

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