James P Devellis is one of my favorite journalists and someone who I have always admired as an investigator and as a storyteller. Throughout the years James has headed up local news stories here in Boston and nationwide stories alike, discovering the truth, dispelling allegations of misconduct about the innocent and writing about all manner of stories from fox hunting to Area-51. I was very lucky to have a sit down meeting with James and I wanted to know more about his writing rather than his investigative journalism. Voluntarily James was more than happy to share some tips on how to be a great writer, perhaps you may learn something from this if this is what you would like to do.
Pen to Paper
Writing is a like muscle and if you do not use it then you will lose it. James recommends that something which every writer should do is to write with regularity. Whether this is a diary entry, a fictional story or even just some gibberish which you feel like jotting down, whatever it is you should always aim to write every day in order to perfect your craft.
There are occasions when you get into that ‘stream of consciousness’ mode which will see you churn out thousands of words of quality content at once, but these moments are not always frequent. What often blocks the writer from saying what they want is that they can often consider who will be reading the information. This part of the process will come during the editing stage so don’t worry at all about how dramatic or sensational your words are. The key here is not to think about the end result, but rather about the process.
When you are asking for feedback about your work it is vital that you take a good cross reference of people. Asking your family may not be a good idea as they will probably tell you that it is brilliant, equally asking someone who doesn’t understand what you are doing may result in them telling you that it is boring. If you want to take a litmus test for your work then you must get a good variation of opinions.
What Are You Doing?
The downfall of many writers is a lack of structure and this is what can often contribute to a piece which doesn’t flow in the right way. Even some of the world’s finest authors have been guilty of this in the past and you can often find extra writing or letters which they have written which don’t sound very good, the author is the same but what is missing is the structure. Think about what you are trying to say, who are you trying to reach and how do you plan to formulate the story. Whether it is a news piece or a novel, you need to first implement a structure, and then simply stick to it.