Saturday, May 10, 2008

How to Write an Article?

Adam Nowak

Writing is a skill which should turn into art, also on the Internet. Many novice journalists, however, wonder what to do in order to fill their blank pages with some text fast and well.
In order to answer this question, one should get acquainted with some basic rules of the art of journalism. The first rule is to have a high command of one's mother tongue as well as proficiency in grammar. The second rule of the writers' workshop is to accept the fact that writing is a several-stage process. We should remember all the stages and keep their order. In press journalism five such stages are distinguished:

1. Subject definition
2. Collecting materials (reporting)
3. Fact analysis and text planning
4. Composing the draft version
5. Editing and refining

Let us now take a closer look at particular stages.

Subject definition - the idea
This is the first step we begin our work with. Depending on the magazine you work for, this might be a political event e.g. a visit of the president in Moscow, a social one, e.g. the issue of unemployment in Warminsko ' Mazurskie Province, or scientific, like producing a map of the human genome. You may also bring up your own idea of the subject which has intrigued you this morning, for instance, depression. Let's assume that this is the subject for your article. If the journalist presiding over the editorial meeting picks up the subject, he will certainly give you some hints e.g. what experts you should ask for a brief opinion, or, if the story about a person suffering from depression should be featured in the article. Obviously, nobody will answer all your questions. It is you who should have a concept of your own work and know what you would like to include there, or rather what the reader would like to find out about. The chief editor may discuss the subject with you and emphasise certain issues, but the rest belongs to you. Now that we have got the subject, we start working and move to the second stage.

Collecting materials (reporting)
Reach the people who may present the topic you want to deal with from different points of view. So if we stick to the subject chosen, one should ask at least one specialist (e.g. a doctor) for opinion, talk, for example, to famous people who were or are suffering from depression. You may also see the manager of a therapeutic centre where people who plunged into depression are being treated, instead. There are many possibilities. Moreover, one should collect as much material as possible that will be useful or even necessary in describing the phenomenon. You will need statistical data, the description of symptoms and various types of the illness. Remember that you have to collect as much information as you can in order to have enough materials to choose from.

Fact analysis and text planning
Once you have collected all the necessary materials, you have to analyse them carefully. Decide which statements you may use in the lead article, which can be partly used, and which you will leave out. Make sure you've asked about everything. Remember two rules for making selection: which facts are crucial? and what questions may come to the reader's mind, the answer to which he would like to find in your text. When making a plan you may prepare a draft copy ' similar to an outline. You may also list the facts and number them in the order of importance.

The draft version
What should you start with? Write anything. What you have already written is not irreversible! If it's not good enough, you can delete the text and start from the very beginning. Surely, if you have enough time to work on the text, you may even start five more times. Try to write as if you were telling a story, however do not use colloquial expressions typical for spoken language. When the rough draft is ready, put it aside at least for a while ' take up something else in order to gain a fresh look and become more critical when you come back to it. It will be easier for you then to correct it.

Editing and refining
A text is not perfect from the start. After you have laid it aside for some time, you may set about correcting it. Make sure the text is not packed with too many adjectives and adverbs,which do not enhance the argumentation, but rather indicate the uncertainty of the author. Check if your sentences are not too complex and complicated, they should be clear. Do not use too sophisticated words and explain the terms the reader might not understand. Avoid beating about the bush, that is, wordiness. Delete all the irrelevant fragments to make the text readable and succinct. When you set about refining the text, always read it aloud, then you will spot all the errors more easily.

Copyright (c) 2008 Adam Nowak

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