Writing for the Ear

I recently completed the NewsU Course entitled “Writing for the Ear,” which taught me how to write more effective audio narratives.

The five-part module covered:

  • Introduction to audio stories – How audio stories are different from their print counterparts and examples of great audio stories
  • Picking and pitching stories – Generating story ideas that work well in audio form and pitching stories and sharpening their focus
  • Writing the story – Everything you need to write effectively at the story, scene and sentence levels
  • Revising the story – Strategies for applying the tools of revision to audio writing
  • Voicing & special topics – How to perform an audio story and other topics, such as “translating” a print story to audio form

I’ve mostly written for print, so I definitely learned a number of new things regarding journalistic writing from a broadcast perspective.

It was interesting to view the necessity of picking and pitching your story. Selecting and pitching your story will have a big impact on your writing. They can make your job a lot easier ― or harder ― when it comes time to report, write and voice your story. So I learned how it important it was to pick if you want to use audio or not in your story.

Evaluating how to pitch the story was some of which I learned already in regards to writing story. The writing process begins with story selection. It involves reporting, tape logging and drafting. After a draft’s in place, a story still needs to be revised and voiced.

Revision is probably where I learned the most from this course. How do you revise an audio story?

While the tight, succinct writing that is done for listeners is good writing no matter where it is used, there’s one critical difference between writing for audio and writing for print: Audio writing is more conversational. Even the best writers slip into clunky, multi-syllabic, adverb-dense prose, and it takes careful editing to get rid of that heavy language. You want to write like Ernest Hemingway, with jabs. Some of the best radio writing isn’t even full sentences. But the writing sounds good, which, of course, is what matters.

Overall, I really enjoyed this NewsU course because it gave perspective on a form of writing I am not too familiar with.

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