Today I got a message from a great writer from a rival TV station – a writer who taught me a lot when I was a young reporter and I continue to heed and respect his advice.
He pointed out that one of the stories on the commercial channel I work for could have been written ‘tighter’.
He pointed out: the school was sent into lock-down could be been written as the school was locked down.
Same meaning – but in broadcast news where every syllable and second counts – the briefer expression saves you 2 words or 3 syllables.
2 words instead of 4!
It’s a good example of how you can ‘write tight’ by looking for ‘weak’ verbs and nouns ( sent into lock-down) and turn it into a more active verb – locked down.
When I taught writing internationally I’d encourage writers to ‘release the verb’ – look for verbs or phrasal verbs suggested by nouns – lock-down (noun) suggests locked down (phrasal verb)
In writing news this sort of awareness and editing can be the kindest cut of all.
If brevity be the soul of wit…here are two witty variations on Shakepeare’s famous quotation: