When producers call and tell me how their work stands out, the number one statement I hear is“ my writing is tight.” Truth be told, when I review a newscast, that is rarely the case. Same is true of reporter scripts. I would get calls from the crews to copy edit and be told “You will love it, my writing is so clean and tight.” That is a tall order. Many were shocked to hear they fell short.
So how do you tighten your own writing? Copy edit yourself. Write your script or cold open or whatever it is, and then go back to it and try and shave time off. Often you will find entire sentences or sections that you can cut.
Another effective technique is to compartmentalize elements. When constructing a live pkg for example, assign facts for each element. Maybe the “what” and “when” are in the anchor intro, the “where” is explained in the live lead, the “who” is the start of your pkg which ends with the “how.” The live tag is the “what’s next.” This helps tighten things up. Often pkg’s repeat information from the anchor intro or live intro. Then the tag repeats information yet again. By compartmentalizing, you help story tell better (see Storytelling on a Dime) and you write more succinctly.
Print out multiple stories, take them home, then write them over again. Sometimes practice makes perfect. A little secret: Many of the best in the business take time out each day or at least each week for self evaluation (see Humble Pie). Your writing will improve. Your speed will improve as well.
Finally, make adverbs and adjectives really count. They must be crucial to the telling of the story, not just something you throw in for extra flare. If you do that, your writing will not only become more clear and concise, but you will also avoid exaggerating facts.
So there you have it, some ways to tighten up your own writing.