Last time, we talked about writing print news stories – the kind you would find in your morning newspaper. Today we’ll talk about how broadcast copy is different, and why.
Write for the ear: I have a confession. While I was writing my fake Sotheby’s story for the last installment, I was wincing. No, actually, it was worse than that. As I typed that hard news lede, every fiber of my being was screaming, “NONONONO! This sentence is too damned LONG!” That’s because, in broadcast news stories, the shorter your sentence is, the better. Keep in mind that someone is supposed to be reading your words aloud. If the sentence is too long, the news anchor will have to pause partway through it and take a breath – and guaranteed, he’ll breathe in the wrong place and screw up the flow. So do yourself a favor and keep your sentences to between ten and 20 words.
You’re absolutely right – 20 words is not very many, and ten will hardly get you started (especially if you interview some self-important person whose title is five or six words long, but I digress). That’s why you must stick to subject-verb-object sentence construction. Any subordinate clause needs its own sentence. Continue reading “Getting It Right: This Just In: Writing News Copy into Your Fiction, Part 2”