Expert tips by Anthony Rowlinson
Date Posted: 23/02/2011
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Pretty much, yes. I took a side-track into law after university. Then realised I’d made a dreadful mistake. Journalism came as a huge relief after that.
What was your first real writing job?
Working as a district reporter on a local paper: The West Sussex County Times. I’ve never been poorer.
What are the qualities a writer definitely has to have?
Clarity. Brevity. A sense of style, rhythm and pace. A voice.
What preparation is necessary before you start a job?
Research every story as much as you can. Assume nothing. Be prepared to ask a stupid question – they often elicit interesting answers. Turn up on time. Be polite if you can. Be rude if you have to.
How do you write a report (steps)?
Think about the story as a whole before you start. Consider where you want it to go. Having a good idea of the destination will help your writing ‘journey’. Having said this, don’t be afraid to perform U-turns half-way through. Keep an open mind.
If you report from an event, how do you prepare yourself?
Make sure you’ve got everything you need! Notebook, Dictaphone (if you use one); spare batteries, accreditation. Think on your feet. Push yourself until the story’s written. Get it done! Then you can relax.
If you do an interview, how do you prepare yourself?
Try to understand why you’re interviewing this person. Who are they? What do you want from them? What new can you get them to tell you? Listen to everything. Remember your reader will be more interested in what your interviewee says, than in what you write.
What are the most important principles a writer should accord to?
KISS! (Keep It Simple, Stupid)