College is often a scary thing for high schoolers to think about. For me, after sitting through TOK, it’s more an object of despair. How is the education system really preparing us for real life? I jumped back and forth between majors. English is all analysis – no one needs that in the real world. Creative writing makes you look like you have no basis in reality. Journalism sets you up for journalism, which these days is looking like a dead-end job. Eventually, irritably, I announced that I would stick all three together into one major, which conveniently narrowed my college list down to those that allowed you to build your own major. Like a sub shop, with class periods instead of vegetables and lunch meats.
I’m in a Journalism class in high school, and was beginning to worry that it was completely unrelated to my (hopeful) future career. Journalism and creative writing are at opposite ends of the writing spectrum. Or so I thought. We were reviewing leads for the utmost time, stressing how they should get the reader’s attention in the shortest, clearest way possible, when something clicked. This wasn’t just in journalism. This was in all writing.
A few months ago, I edited a friend’s novel for them. Or really, read through it and made a few comments. I didn’t feel comfortable chopping up another person’s baby. The story was pretty good, but one of the comments I left was ‘In the first few chapters, you have way too many similes. Try cutting them down.’ It was true – she’d had a simile practically every other sentence. I’ve seen this in lots of places. Writers want their works to be impressive and literary, so they immediately throw in lots of flowery adjectives and overused similes. But Journalism trains you not to do this. The rule journalists have burned into their minds is GET TO THE POINT. Don’t dilly dally, don’t try to impress the reader with every way you can say someone’s sad without actually saying it. Writing well doesn’t mean writing with lots of words and techniques. It means writing well, and you can do that without overdoing things.