Way with Words: CRISP style for the journalist. Sunday, March 13.
C: Clarify (by crossing out/deletion)
-Cut out redundancies
-Cut out insults to the intelligence of the ideal reader (don’t include basic info that you’re ideal reader would already know, it’s insulting to his/her intelligence)
-Cut out irrelevancies
-Cut out references to yourself, generally
-Cut out violation of the “rule of opposite modifiers.” The rule of opposite modifiers is when you use an adjective that’s antonym doesn’t make sense. For example, don’t say “official police,” just say “police.” Because you can’t reasonably use the antonym of official because there are no unofficial police.
R: Replace (substitution)
-the vague and general with the vivid and specific (i.e. replace few with an actual number)
-the long word with the shorter (so long as the precise meaning is not lost): “Use the word use, instead of utilize the word utilize.”
-the uncommon with the common word.
-in most cases, the foreign borrowing with the basic English word (exceptions: deja vu, etc.)
I: Invigorate (activation)
-seek the action verb: replace forms of “to be”
-revise sentences to make the subject ACTORS and the verb ACTIONS
-strive for the kernel sentences (simple sentences) that proclaims a headline
-avoid nominalizations – structure that make good potential verbs to nouns
-transform passive voice structures into active voice
-make statements in the positive form: for example, he is not succeeding in math -> he is failing math. Basically, say what it is as opposed to what it isn’t.
S: Structure (arrangement of sentence parts)
-avoid the middle of long sentences for anything you wish to emphasize new information or important ideas
-strive for a variety of sentence structures
1.) short direct simple sentences for introduction, transitions, emphasis, conclusions, “punch line”
2.) Compound sentences for comparisons
3.) complex sentences to show hierarchies of thought
4.) compound-complex sentences to show interesting variety and development of more intricate or subtle thought
P: Poeticize (make the language more memorable)
-pay attention to the sound of the language as well as the sense of the words: pay attention to the music of your language as well as its meaning and message
-make use of rhetorical figures – tried and true “ways with words”
-use the theory of transformations to play with the possibilities of the sentences
-READ your sentences aloud for flow and rhythm
The first part – CRI – are used to gain the maximum meaning with the minimum number of words
And the second part – SP – is to gain the maximum effect with the minimum number of words
This workshop focused on doing a lot of the work upfront, with the writing, so the reader doesn’t have to, since you, as the writer, won’t be there to clarify.