A quick way to make news bulletins sound more ‘lively’ is to tweak sentences starting with ‘There were’ or ‘there was’.


For example:


There were celebrations today after hundreds of volunteers helped find a missing girl.


I encourage you to tweak for two reasons.


  1. You can ‘release the verb’ in  there were celebrations.Releasing the verb’ usually makes the writing shorter, snappier, and more active.
  2.  There WERE sounds ‘past. If appropriate and accurate, ask yourself if the action is still going on.                                                                                                                                                                            I’m a big fan of the paramedic technique of bringing dead writing back to life.  The essence of the technique is: (1) turn nouns into verbs/release the verb and (2) start the sentence with the actor/s performing the action.

There were celebrations today after hundreds of volunteers helped find a missing girl.




There were celebrations becomes ARE celebrating.

Who is celebrating?

Hundreds of volunteers.

So the sentence becomes:

Hundreds of volunteers are celebrating tonight after they helped find a missing girl.

And the words THERE WERE or THERE ARE – are easy warning signs of an opportunity to release the verb and make your writing punchier and livelier and more present.




You like news writing tips? I’ve got plenty of them – accumulated over years of bosses improving my broadcast scripts.


Hi, if you are interesting in writing – you’ll probably enjoy this blog. I’m a self-confessed and proud word nerd and big fan of Shakespeare – and other writers such as Hemingway.


One of the most satisfying parts of my recent job as a Deputy News Director at a major commercial TV network in Australia was helping younger writers.

I understand that the name Bard of Breaking News can seem outrageously arrogant – yet I strategically use it for ‘memorable branding’ and for the comic effect of the outrageous link and contrast between the lasting and deep grandeur or Shakespeare’s writing and the disposable speed of modern breaking news.

I do firmly believe that we can all learn from Shakespeare’s techniques to improve our writing – whether it’s for business or political speeches or even writing breaking news.













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