Thursday, March 7, 2013

Improve your writing: write to a newspaper

I submitted an editorial piece to the Orlando Sentinel recently in my continuing efforts to improve my writing and expose myself to other forms of publishing. This article was published yesterday and may be found here:,0,933320.story. It concerns the use of bicycles as a form of transportation near the UCF campus.

One thing I learned from this experience was that newspapers prefer much shorter paragraphs than scientific publishers. I originally had three or four paragraphs in the 400-word essay; the editor turned it into nine. I suppose having multiple paragraphs makes the article easier to read and allows the reader more opportunities to "abandon" the article once they've started reading.

I also learned that newspaper editors won't ask writers if it's OK to perform edits beyond simply breaking a piece of writing into paragraphs. I was a bit disappointed that a few phrases were cut from my original article since they argued for a few points that I felt were important. However, the overall message of the article is more clear in its published form since it is not obfuscated by too many arguments.

Overall, I'm pleased with the experience, and I'm contemplating how to move forward with increasing bike awareness in Orlando.