I'm in college to earn a degree in journalism (for the moment) and lately I can't help notice how different news writing is from fictional writing.
For example, an important part of every news story is a lead. The lead is the first sentence and it's meant to draw the reader in to continue the rest of the article. A weak lead can break the entire piece. The story will be buried somewhere in the back of the paper where no eyes will ever see it.
Needless to say, I usually focus on developing my lead for a good amount of time. The rest of the story has a way of falling into place after a strong lead, well, leads the way.
I know what you're thinking. "But, Mariah, the first sentence of a novel is important, too." This is true. I mean, which one of these would you rather read?
1) Call me Ishmael.
2) Hey, my name is Ishmael. It rhymes with whale, which actually reminds me of a really good story.
1) It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
2) It was a nice time. Yes, really nice. On the other hand, it wasn't. Not really.
It's important for a novel to have a strong beginning, but a novel can also be more forgiving. Chances are, if you don't like the first paragraph or so, you're not going to put the book down. Picking up a book is an investment. If you don't like a news article, you can always skip to the next one.
Next, if I'm reporting a hard news story (pressing importance), the goal is to get out the facts. No elaborate wording or sentence construction, just write the info!
This is how the article is set up:
To me, this seems like the exact OPPOSITE of writing a novel. Novels reach a climax near the end, but in the news, any interesting snippet is placed right in front.
Alright, I'm going to cut myself off, because I'm starting to sound boring and preachy. I guess that's what happens when my "career" and my "hobby" are on opposite sides of the spectrum.