What Should Every Writer Know About Journalistic Writing?

Late last fall, I announced I’ll be teaching at the 35th Annual Southeastern Writers Association conference (yay!).  Believe it or not, that is at the end of this month(Where does the time go, I ask you??)

Right now, I am putting the finishing touches on my workshop, “The Well-Prepared Freelancer: Journalistic Writing and Its Benefits for Writing of Any Kind,” but I need your help. (Pretty please?)

When I originally designed the course and pitched it to SWA, I intended it to be a four-class workshop, in which I’d teach the basics of journalistic writing and then show how to apply those skills to not only news stories but to other types of writing (i.e., query letters, manuscripts, short stories, etc.).*

However, with all the great presenters who are going to be in attendance at SWA this year, they were only able to fit me in for one class.  So, while I still intend to do this, I am somewhat limited on how much I can cover.

My question to you, Dear Blogosphere, is: What should every writer know about journalistic writing?

What questions do you have?

What do you think is important to know about it?

Furthermore, if you were attending a course like this, what would you expect to take away?

(Okay, that was technically four questions—but it’s a writing conference, not a math conference!)

I would greatly appreciate any thoughts you might have on this subject, as I whittle down my syllabus.

Thanks in advance, pals!  *mwah* (That was a kiss, not the beginning of my evil laugh!)**

Leave a comment, or I'll gnaw on your kit-ty. MWAH-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAA!!

*Click here to see my previous post on this, where I go more in depth in terms of my my purpose and rationale for the class.

**No, I don’t know what’s with my colored text today.

Writing News: I’m Teaching at SWA

I’m ecstatic to announce I’ll be teaching a workshop at the 35th annual Southeastern Writers Association conference in beautiful St. Simon’s Island, Ga. It’s official!

My workshop, “The Well-Prepared Freelancer: Journalistic Writing and Its Benefits for Writing of Any Kind,” is not designed to turn out an army of beat reporters, but to give writers a fighting chance at freelancing in the journalistic market as well as to make their writing more clear and to the point—regardless of their specialty.


We all want to get the attention of literary agents and publishing companies.  Everyone has a novel in a drawer or a nonfiction book proposal on a computer file somewhere.  In order to maximize the chances of getting those longer works published, however, one must be a working writer—and to be a working writer, freelancing is key. The more writing credits we have under our belts when we query that agent, that publisher, the better our chances become of actually hearing back from them.

Short fiction is a great way to build one’s writing résumé; however, publishing short stories and personal essays in anthologies is only one piece of the freelancing puzzle. To be a well-rounded freelancer and increase the amount of opportunities one has to publish, one cannot ignore the newspaper/magazine/e-zine market—and in order to conquer this market, one must acquire the basics of journalistic writing.


When you think of journalism, you may think of a newspaper beat reporter with a press pass in his cap, but the skills learned here will transcend newspaper writing.  Utilizing journalistic writing skills will help your queries and manuscripts stand out from the rest in the slush pile.

We have all heard agents and editors discuss the importance of succinct query letters and synopses.  Likewise, novel and short fiction instructors have emphasized hooking the reader in the first chapter, first page, first sentence.  In order to do both of these things effectively, one must understand and acquire the skill set journalistic writing provides.

To get ahead in this field, we must learn to be economical with our words, and by acquiring the basics of journalistic writing, you help yourself get rid of the clutter and get published faster.

If you're attending SWA this June, make sure you stop by my class---I'll give you all the journalistic tools you need!