Checklist: Write better using journalism tricks

betty ming liu Writing how-to's 3 Comments

After years of teaching journalism and writing my own stories, I’ve come up with some tried-and-true tactics for wrangling words. What follows are some of my favorite practices. Take them together as a check list and you’ll be in good shape too.

The batch of links below is for the time you sit in front of your computer. As you tap at your keyboard, it’s important to realize that you are part of an organic, dimensional experience of shaping something that is already alive:

How to write tight 

What is a nut graf?

Rule of 3 can help your writing

Three great writing tips that transform my students.

My pet peeve: “it” vs. “they”

How punctuation works 


The quality and effectiveness of your writing can also benefit from doing more research. The better you understand your topic, the easier it is to brilliantly condense information instead of carrying on with too much blah blah blah. If you need to do more research, the next set of links are all about reporting. Whether you’re talking to people or going online, there are ways to make the most of your efforts:

Top 10 basic interviewing tips

5 interviewing tips that work in journalism and real life

How to search and do more with Google


Most importantly, trust your instincts. Your writing is a form of conversation, a chance to connect. Hey, I’ll bet that you’re already unconsciously practicing a lot of the stuff mentioned here in the way you talk with friends. Now it’s about turning that approach into conversational writing. Do it enough and you’ll soon see that the process can be really, really satisfying.


Comments 3

  1. Post

    I actually wrote this post for some very special folks. Last Monday, I had the privilege of guest lecturing at two York College undergraduate journalism classes in Jamaica, Queens. The prof is a friend of mine, Tom Moore.

    The students were such a lively bunch, which made me feel proud. After all, I attended City College and graduated from Baruch College. All three schools are part of the City University of New York. I have many families and it’s always good to be with my people from CUNY! xo

  2. i love you Betty.. taniesha from Tom Moore’s class your blog is our hw assignment and honestly it is very inspirational and i really learn a lot from you

    1. Post

      Aw, thanks! Taniesha, so nice to have you visit AND leave a comment. As a blogger, I live for the feedback. Btw, I really, really enjoyed visiting your classes. It was great to share that time with you all. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *