Getting to the Point

A real letter from The Washington Post:

Your Novel Treatments

She walked slowly over to the hard, cluttered breakfast table. Knowing there might be bad news, she sat down. Taking a sip of coffee, she read the first headline and started scanning the words below. One sentence, two sentences, three sentences. . .she was searching for the information. Where was it?


Getting frustrated that you can’t figure out the point of this letter? The Post should leave out its creative writing and just deliver the news.

It is agonizing to hunt for the who, what, when, where and why. I hope The Post  empathizes and will stop reporting the news through someone who is writing the Great American novel. Please.

–B.M. Hess, Bethesda, Md.

My sentiments exactly. And entirely too much first-person writing, too.

When writing, always know the purpose and the audience for your words and write within the parameters of the form you’re using (press release, news article, ad, letter). Don’t get fancy, just get to the point.

If you have difficulty wading through your own clutter of words to get there, an editor might be a big help.



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