Did you know Shakespeare invented the word swagger?
In HENRY V, ACT II, SCENE IV and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, ACT III, SCENE I
“An’t please your majesty, a rascal that swaggered with me last night.” – Williams
“What hempen home-spuns have we swaggering here, so near the cradle of the fairy queen?” – Puck
This week I encouraged a young news update writer to add some swagger to her writing – with warning of course.
She wrote in her update that someone walked out of an inquiry.
To me (and I understand different writers have their own writing preferences) walked is boring and generic and bland.
I suggested she change walked to stormed out of the inquiry – if of course the pictures/vision matched the wording – and they did!
Stormed sounded more dramatic and matched the vision.
Of course, you need to be careful about subjective ‘value judgments’ – but in this case stormed was suitable. He did not swagger out of court – but he did storm.
I understand Shakespeare wrote for drama and entertainment – not objective news reporting. However, I encourage you to add ‘appropriate drama and swagger’ to your news writing.
One of my favourite court reporters is very experienced and responsible and adds appropriate drama and description to her stories. She is a keen observer and a confident writer – and will add details such as (and I paraphrase):
the defendant seemed bored and uninterested- yawning and looking at the ceiling as the charged were read out.
The defendant seemed tired and uninterested as the charges were read out…having to be elbowed by X ( the co-defendant) to wake up.
What I like is the inclusion of the word seemed (showing it’s not an objective fact) then followed by some observable physical action/s that supports the description.
I encourage other newer reporters in our newsroom to also use this SEEM + OBSERVABLE ACTION technique.
If you have a different opinion on adding swagger to news writing, please feel free to add to the comments below.