Mini narratives can be as brief as a paragraph In The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee shares this tiny tale: "In 2005, a man diagnosed with multiple myeloma asked me if he would be alive to watch his daughter graduate from high school in a few months. In 2009, bound to a wheelchair, he watched his daughter graduate from college. The wheelchair had nothing to … [Read more...] about How small is small?
Squeeze a big life into a small space How do you pack a large life into a tight space? Try a "pocket profile." That's the technique Anjelica Huston used to describe her great-great-great grandfather in her new memoir, A Story Lately Told: "… a prospector, John Gore, who started up several newspapers from Kansas to New York. A cowboy, a settler, a saloon owner, a judge, … [Read more...] about Use ‘narrative shorthand’
Make your copy measurably more interesting Can you measure how interesting your copy is? Readability expert Rudolph Flesch believed that you can. Flesch is famous for developing the Flesch Reading Ease, one of the most popular and widely used readability tests. It uses word length and sentence length to measure how easy your copy is to read. Less famously, Flesch … [Read more...] about Take the (other) Flesch test
"[Good writers] tell not of a battle, but of a soldier, they talk not about governance, but about a deal, they discuss not a socioeconomic group, but a person and a life." — Donald M. Murray, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, in Writing to Deadline: The Journalist at Work One or 1,001? Why 'one individual trumps the masses' "If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I … [Read more...] about One or 1,001? | March 2010
"All that wasted motion of everybody putting in commas and taking out commas wasn't necessary." — Art Weise, vice president of Corporate Communications, Entergy Corp., after reengineering the company's approval process What's the cost of 'niggling'? Do all those tweaks really add value to the bottom line? First there was DBT, or Death by Tweakage: When a brochure or … [Read more...] about What’s the cost of ‘niggling’? | February 2010