1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Writing in paragraphs

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Pulitzer Wannabe, Nov 19, 2008.

  1. So I'm reading The New Yorker last night at home when suddenly it dawns on me: "I could not do this."

    Why? Paragraphs. They last for many sentences. They are organized and contained to a single topic, which they build upon one sentence on top of the other. And they flow into another paragraph, which does the same thing.

    I consider myself an average to above-average newspaper writer. I am not sure when the last time was that a paragraph contained more than two sentences. Maybe three.

    I think I would flunk English 101 if I went back to college.

    I am seriously wondering if newspapering ruins one as a writer with a capital "W."
  2. J-School Blue

    J-School Blue Member

    It's certainly a different mindset. I always got top grades in my English classes and, looking back at the essays and crap I wrote in high school and college, I still think they're fairly effective for what they are. I almost tanked my first newswriting class. It wasn't just a matter of style. You're writing for an entirely different purpose.

    On the whole, I think newspapers made me a stronger, more effective writer. A lot of "Big-W" prose conventions are not good writing. They are spoiled writing that's trying too hard. Not saying you'll find this in magazines like The New Yorker, which has arguably some of the best editors in the country. But magazine writing in general is replete with BS.
  3. The thing with the New Yorker story I was reading that struck me was how smooth and quick it read, even with these long paragraphs. I know what you're saying, but this wasn't a pretentious magazine article (New Yorker stories almost never are - at least in 2008, they seem to put clarity first and foremost).
  4. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    It's all about catering your style to writing for a different audience.

    Takes some time to get used to, and it's very, very hard to go back and forth repeatedly (hence my writing struggles going back to college while continuing to work a full-time newspaper job.)

    But if you can write, you can write. Just takes a different mind-set.
  5. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    To Pulitzer's initial lament:

    The Jones is going contribute something smart and reassuring on this topic, I predict. Dirty too, if we're lucky. Himself started in newspapers and now writes fine whole paragraphs with the best anywhere.

    This, too, PW: David Remnick, the NYer's ubereditor and master brain - whose voice you hear whispering in every NYer piece these days - began in newspapers likewise.

    Thus the single sentence graf is not incurable.

    And for bonus points, who can name the 60s film in which J-School's "Big-W" appears?
  6. It was actually Remnick's nine-chapter piece on Barack Obama that inspired this post.
  7. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Mr. Remnick is something of a genius.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page