March 30, 2017

Quotes on conversational writing

What writers and others say

“A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.”
— Truman Capote, author and gadabout who wrote In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s

“The voice of most news stories is neutral and authoritative. Editorials are often written in institutional voices. Columnists, critics and sports writers often develop distinctive voices that readers seek out over their breakfast cereal and interact with in an imagined form of conversation.”
— Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar, The Poynter Institute

“The language of journalism is not like speech, but it is closer to speech than most other forms of writing.”
— Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar, The Poynter Institute

“The voices in American journalism for too long have been too monotone and monochromatic.”
— Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar, The Poynter Institute

“The only authors whom I acknowledge as American are the journalists.
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Quotes on transitions

What writers and others say

“Life is a transition.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita, founder of Smart Youth Volunteers Foundation

“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”
― Isaac Asimov

“It’s impossible … to survive a week of American news without running into the phrase ‘but the dream became a nightmare.’”
— Roy Peter Clark, Poynter Institute senior scholar, in Writing Tools

“Every chapter must end with a cliffhanger.
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Quotes on endings

What writers and others say

Quotes on endings

Keep your end up “Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet, educator and linguist. Image by Marc Wathieu

“A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.”
— Anonymous

“A couple of issues about ending on a strong direct quote. First, I want to make sure that the content of the quote doesn’t bias the story in one direction or the other.
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Quotes on using more periods

What writers and others say

Quotes on using more periods

Keep your end up “Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet, educator and linguist. Image by Marc Wathieu

“A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.”
— Anonymous

“A couple of issues about ending on a strong direct quote. First, I want to make sure that the content of the quote doesn’t bias the story in one direction or the other.
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Quotes on WIIFMs

What writers and others say

Quotes on WIIFMs

Me, myself, I “Your reader is a narcissistic 2-year-old saying, ‘Me, me, me. What’s in it for me?’” — Anonymous

“Your reader is a narcissistic 2-year-old saying, ‘Me, me, me. What’s in it for me?’”
— Anonymous

“It’s not what you do with the product, it’s what you do with the mind.”
— Anonymous

  “Writing persuasively is not about persuasion. It’s about empathy.”
— Ray Edwards, direct response copywriter

“Our readers don’t want to just read stories.
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Quotes on captions

What writers and others say

Quotes on captions

Made you look “[Captions] can be to stories what trailers are to movies — intriguing, compelling previews.” — Monica L. Moses, deputy managing editor/visuals, Minneapolis Star Tribune. Image by Marc Wathieu

“No task involved in producing a newspaper has a greater disparity between its importance to the reader and its attention from most newsrooms than writing cutlines. Too often, they are the first thing the reader reads … and the last thing the newsroom slaps together.”
— Steve Buttry, director of tailored programs, American Press Institute

“It turns out that pictures can say whatever we want them to say, provided we use the right words.
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Quotes on avoiding jargon

What writers and others say

Quotes on avoiding jargon

Start making sense “Dump the technospeak. Nobody understands it.” — Joyce Bustinduy, global publisher, Levi Strauss & Company

“If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well.”
— Albert Einstein, the father of modern physics

“When people don’t understand the material, they tend to go more with the original, often too-technical and undigested information from a primary source. A writer who really understands the information can translate it accurately into lay language.”
— Neita F.
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Quotes on list writing

What writers and others say

“In the spirit of Ethan’s neurosis, we made a drywall list of keyboard buttons we would like to see: PLEASE, THANK YOU, FUCK OFF, DIE, OOPS … MY MISTAKE, DO SOMETHING COOL AND SURPRISE ME.”
― Douglas Coupland, author, in Microserfs

“The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order.”
— Umberto Eco, renowned Italian author

“The list doesn’t destroy culture; it creates it.
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Avoid creative incest

Don’t model executive quotes on executive quotes

One problem with executive quotes is that we model them after other executive quotes. That’s how we wind up putting together ridiculous lines like these, from the UK Press quote generator:

Avoid creative incest

Not another boring talking head Don’t write executive quotes. Instead, write killer sound bites. Image by Daniel Lobo

“A market first, our cutting-edge software product is a major move towards WAP-enablement.”
“Representing a radical step-change, our new product set tests the performance of enhanced customer care.”
“Out-of-the-box, our end-to-end solution recognises the importance of mission critical operations.”

Marketing guru Dan Kennedy calls the practice of turning to ourselves for inspiration “creative incest.” As with regular incest, he says, the product of creative incest just keeps getting dumber and dumber and dumber with each generation.… Read the full article

Quotes on subheads

What writers & others say

“A writer who knows the big parts can name them for the reader, using such markers as subheadings and chapter titles, the reader who sees the big parts is more likely to remember the whole story.”
— Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar, The Poynter Institute

“[Subheads] act as road signs on a reader’s journey through the text. They give direction and highlight key information and points of interest.
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