Writing Tips

As important as the editing process is in a newspaper, there is only so much you can do to improve the material people submit – especially in a student newspaper. Here are a few tips for making that material better.

1. Write for your audience

If you’re writing for a highschool newspaper, it won’t only be your fellow band, video production, art, or photography students who read what you write. Not all of them will be in your history class, or be taking chemistry. It is therefore important to avoid technical jargon and to write what is interesting to people without your background in the subject. For example, plenty of people would read about the Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording), but significantly fewer would be interested in an in-depth analysis of the orchestration.

2. Show all sides

This is especially important when you’re writing about a current issue or event, such as a political campaign. Even if you are firmly in favor of one  side of an argument, you still need to present the pros and cons of the others. For example, if you were covering the recent Manitoban provincial election, you could be completely in favor of the NDP, but you still need to present what the Conservative and Liberal parties are promising.

3. Stay respectful

This one ties into number 2. Whatever opinions you may be expressing, your article needs to be respectful towards every element of the topic. Even if it is humorous, avoid polking fun at sensitive topics and stay respectful of everyone.

4. Watch your grammar, spelling, style, etc.

This one might seem obvious, and the editor fix mistakes to a certain extent, but it still deserves a mention. The better your writing is, the more people will take it seriously. Awkward or repetetive sentence structure can distract them from what you’re trying to say, and mistakes can change what they think of the arguments your making, so re-read what you write and improve it.

5. Play to your strengths

This encompasses a few things, including to write about what you’re interested in, and to write in a style that works for you. It’s a bunch easier to make your readers interested in what you’re saying if it’s something that interests you. Also, everyone has their own writing voice, so find what works for you.

Writing Prompts for Beginners

Image by Daniel Nanescu via Splitshire.com

Writing is hard, nerve-wracking even. No matter how much of a good writer you are, all your skills equate to nothing if you can’t find a topic to write about. However, you shouldn’t let a simple ‘writer’s block’ define who you are as a writer. Believe it or not, authors and journalists have been plagued by this phenomenon for centuries!

In an interview with Buzzfeed, author Rainbow Rowell shares her experience with writer’s block:

For a period of time, I’ll think nothing I write feels good. It feels like this gray muck.

Hasn’t this occurred to all of us at some point? All the stress, worry, and anxiety from feeling unproductive.

Nevertheless, there are endless ways to generate writing ideas:

1. Go outside.
During his junior year in college, John Green and his friends went on a road trip to South Dakota. They stumbled upon a ‘paper town’ called “Holen.” Green later used this encounter as the main plot for his  best-selling book, Paper Towns. Like John Green, it’s up to you to connect the dots together and create a new story. We’re not saying ideas just come from thin air, but a quick stroll around the neighborhood can give you a new perspective on things.

2.  Rip off someone else’s writing.
No, seriously. When you see a beautifully written piece, use it as an inspiration. As a writer, you have the power to personalize it as best as you can. To do this, you must add your own writing, get ideas from other sources,  and recycle it until you can truly call the piece yours.

3.  Talk to people.
The best way to generate new ideas is through conversations. Use people’s opinions as a building block to your work then reflect upon them. Ask your parents how they met, talk to your neighbors about global warming. There are infinite things to talk about.

4.   Stay up to date on books, music, and art.
There have been many instances where writers were inspired by a particular painting, song, or movie. Take the case of The Da Vinci Code, for example. The book revolves around Leonardo da Vinci’s The Vitruvian Man. In another case, Kim Kardashian’s book, Selfish, sparked a debate within the literary community as to whether it qualifies as a book or not. Journalists were quick to express their opinion on said discourse.

5. Look online.
The Internet is a treasure trove of information. A quick Google search can give you access to thousands of useful data. Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list of resources to help you get started.