The Basic Requirements of News Writing for Dafa Practitioners (Part 6)
November 14, 2003
7. Writing the Main Body of a Report
(1). Break through the restrictions of human notions
Although Dafa disciples work in different kinds of jobs and careers and have different backgrounds, we know that our true origins are from very high levels. Had there not been the restrictions of our attachments and notions, we would be beings with great wisdom and great freedom. The living condition of one's life in the human world does not reveal how much capability we have. For some of those who never obtained high-level education or those who had rarely written any articles, they might feel that it is hard to start writing and harder to write well. In fact it is not really so. The problem is that there is a notion that makes one feel this way. If you do not believe it, you can try to put your heart into learning to write, and then your writing skill is most likely to be better than what you thought it to be. If you feel that writing is difficult whenever you think about writing, you might indeed be blocked by your notion. We have many practitioners in Mainland China who had never used the Internet, and are now able to break through the blockade and use the Internet. Many of them are older people or children. The main reason for their success is that they broke through their own notions. Things that were hard to learn became easy to learn. They could learn what they didn't understand with just a little bit of help from others. And they could achieve what ordinary people could not achieve. It is the same for writing articles, not to mention that you will become more skilled after practicing more.
(2). Pay attention to the writing style and effect
With news writing, we should first determine who our readers are and what their characteristics might be, and then figure out how to use the appropriate words and organization of contents to best communicate with them. At the same time, we have to be aware what the key points in the news are, and what kind of information we want to pass on to the readers. When the writer writes with a purpose, the reader will feel that the article relates to him and may be more interested in reading it.
With regard to the style of writing, if it is literary work, then we should stress the heightening of emotions and a large amount of descriptive visualization. Other types of writing have other special requirements and characteristics. The basic requirement to news writing is to be true, realistic, and clear. Regarding the language used in news writing, a specialist summarized it as "concise, direct, detailed and clear. Go straight to the heart of the matter. Don't dance around. Make the content essential and precise."
The content's being essential is achieved by having substance in every word. Being concise is another aspect. If you can express it with five words, don't use eight words. And if you can tell it in one sentence, don't use three sentences. Concise and excellent wording can make the article attractive. Of course, since we have limited time, we don't have to pursue perfection as artists do. But we should think from the perspective of a reader. If we could study the usage of wording a little bit better, then the article can make the readers more interested in reading it, and also retaining a deep impression of it.
The conception of news writing is also important. The preciousness of Dafa disciples' clarifying the truth is our attentiveness and our righteous belief in Dafa. Our pure viewpoints on things and our deep understanding of the essence of a matter have provided us with particularly favorable natural conditions. An argument that people can't understand after hearing it repeatedly is not as good as one that someone could easily convey to other people after having heard it only once. Therefore the material and wording are very important. We should use simple words to describe things vividly and precisely, and that at the same time have deep connotations.
(3). The main text of news reports
If the main text of a report is well written, then it will appeal to the reader to find out from the article more about what they do not know and how they will benefit from the information provided after reading the article.
There are mainly two ways of writing. One is called the "upside-down triangle," which means putting the most important facts at the beginning, then the less important, with the least important being at the end and finishing the article with supplementary material. The other way of writing is to write chronologically. One may choose either way according to how one expects to achieve the desired effect, and so on and so forth.
I think the requirement for writing the main text is similar to that of writing a special report. Once one understands the relationship, one can easily grasp different forms of writing at the same time.
Put more specifically, a special report usually has an introduction paragraph to enable the reader to understand the subject, objectives of the report, its importance, background and the information involved, whereas a news report needs to have introductory remarks and brief essentials; a special report is composed of a group of compositions, whereas a news report consists of a group of paragraphs. A special report needs to be written with the reader's interest in mind, whereas a news report should also consider the reader's characteristics. A special report needs a unique reporting angle and form of expression, as does a news report. In addition, a special report often uses pictures, charts, maps and framed pictures to illustrate besides the text, whereas a news report also includes pictures to increase the visual effect of the subject and to attract the reader's attention.
(4). Consider what the reader is interested in
On the above-mentioned point of considering the reader's interest, I think that when Dafa practitioners write news reports, we absolutely should not go along with the unhealthy, immoral taste of the public. When we talk about considering the reader's interest, we mean that a special or a news report we write should be able to help the reader (1) gain new knowledge, new information; (2) touch their heart and arouse their sympathy; (3) learn how to look at things and stimulate their thoughts. At the same time it should provide the reader at the most appropriate time with subject, information and comments that they would like to know most about.
(5). Vivid and varied forms of writing
I mentioned that a special report is composed of a number of compositions and a main text consisting of a number of paragraphs. However, there are many techniques and particulars involved when we go into details. Briefly speaking, it usually refers to the provision of views from multiple angles, multiple sources and a variety of approaches.
Views from many sides will provide views from multiple angles, and this way the content of a report would be vivid, varied and attractive to the reader. For example, we could provide contents of interviews. The theory and introduction tend to be abstract, but if we include a real specific case, the content will become vivid and the reader will feel that the report is full of vivid details and it is true to life. Observation and circumstantial evidence is another aspect. People vary from one another and the information they get from their observation also varies. Sometimes, by providing the observation of the reporter and circumstantial evidence from a third party, the report will be much more effective. In addition, background information is also very important, which can be used to complement, to quote as proof or to reinforce the effect of the interview and observation, so that the report is even better supported and more truthful.
An interview is an important means of reporting that is often used. While we make our main points clear and accurate, we should also try to make our report vivid and use a variety of techniques. For example, when reporting on a lawsuit, we could interview the plaintiffs, the witnesses, the lawyer, people in the public gallery, an expert in a relevant area, relevant parties in a similar lawsuit and other parties involved in the lawsuit and so on and so forth.
The above is only some personal accumulated knowledge of basic writing techniques, examples, as well as some personal thoughts on the special requirements of Dafa practitioners in writing news reports. I wrote it in a hurry, so the content might not be comprehensive. I'm only hoping that the issues raised and the relevant information would help fellow practitioners improve themselves in their professional writing skills and in their way of thinking.
For Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, please see