The Fountain Pen, Guelph's On-Line News
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So you'd like to be a writer

Web posted on December 02, 2019

Welcome to the new and reinvigorated The Fountain Pen. I hope you are as excited about the newer look as I am. Comments and constructive criticism are welcome so we can continue to improve not only our look but also our content.

Publication will continue with new content locally written being published up to three times a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

As I mentioned in my introductory column, I am looking forward to working with contributors from the many communities we reach in Wellington, Grey, Bruce and Perth Counties; Guelph and some of the Townships of Waterloo Region. Anyone interested should contact me at .

Any event in your community is eligible to be published depending upon space available.

Columns of general interest such as film, video or book reviews; sports activities and fitness are also welcome. If you have a passion for a specialized hobby or activity that may not seem of general interest and wish to write a column regularly, contact me.

Our editorial policy is to publish items from contributors with little or no editing. Editing is generally done to make the copy read in the active voice while keeping in context of the writer's original intent.

Photos should be provided whenever possible and include identification of the primary individuals shown in the images. Editorial photos do not require a model release except on occasion. If required, contact me for direction.

Three Reporting Principles: Accuracy, Speed and Facts

These three reporting principles were created by Ian Fleming. Yes, THAT Ian Fleming! Created while working for Reuters, Fleming learned the principles from an old editor who trained him as a writer. But he added a phrase to the principles based on his Wartime activities as intelligence officer, spy and later as author of the James Bond franchise. He added five words that embody the essence of good journalism: "The more exciting, the better!"

Author Sebastian Faulks, speaking on Fleming's writing on a BBC documentary, put it even more clearly: Fleming wrote in "journalistic style...don't bang on too have to get the information (to the reader) quickly and clearly. This means short sentences, lots of active main adverbs ever, very few adjectives, no semi-colons...if you need semi-colons put in a full stop and write another (sentence)."

I suggest anyone who wants to be a contributor to The Fountain Pen remember Faulks' words and Fleming's three principles and use "excitement" when required to give a good item an escalation to better.

So, as they say in the business: keep it tight, keep it accurate and let the facts flow one after the other without editorial comment. Always let the reader make his/her own judgment on the facts unless you are writing an opinion piece.

Just a few words regarding the skill of writing. If you are passionate about writing, then write everyday. It doesn't matter what you write as long as your creative juices rise up or as Canadian author W.O. Mitchell once told me: "Let the cream rise to the top and then skim it off."

For dialogue, watch TV, cable, Youtube or videos. I personally follow mostly British drama and mysteries, partly because they tend to display the best in writing talent.

Developing a style is one of the hardest things a new writer faces. When I was District Editor at The Daily Mercury I told most novices it would take them up to a year to develop a writing style they'd be happy with if they could last a year in what was then a very competitive writer's market.

Those who successfully lasted a year and withstood the pressures of daily deadlines could then define a niche for their work. Those writers became specialists in various disciplines from economics to health.

That's it. Until next time.