Wednesday, Andrea McDaniels, of the Baltimore Sun came in to speak to the feature writing class I’m currently taking at Towson University.
This isn’t the first guest speaker we’ve had in that class, but she was the first to give us three rules of writing straight off the bat and with no delay.
Rule 1) Writing never gets easier.
Yes, there is natural talent and instinct. And yes, McDaniels said, there are mechanics and skills that can be learned. But, she said, the act of actually writing is something that is a constant exercise.
Rule 2) Your writing is only as good as your reporting.
I would hope that this doesn’t need an explanation.
Rule 3) Getting people to open up is key.
You can’t have a successful story without sources that are willing to talk. Those sources need to be comfortable and, y’know. Real. Relatable.
“People want to read about real people,” she said. “People connect with real people.”
That might be the central tenant of the AMSoJ. McDaniels says that she got into journalism because she wanted to make a difference. She was one of those rare people who knew exactly what they wanted to do while they were still in high school.
And, while she stressed the importance of making sure that there were real people in the story, she also stressed that those people need to connect a reader back to the bigger picture.