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Literary vs.

Journalistic Writing
Characteristics of Literary Writing Characteristics of Journalistic Writing

• To entertain and inform leisurely • Must inform quickly

PURPOSE
• To appeal primarily to the emotions • Primarily to give information
• To interest a comparatively small and select group • Interests a large group with varying educational back-
ground
• Written at 10th grade level

• May or may not be entirely factual • Entirely factual

CONTENT
• May or may not be timely • Should be timely
• Deals with either actual or imaginary events/situa- • Deals with actual events/situations/ideas
tions/ideas • Based on facts gathered by reporters
• Limited only by the author’s imagination

STRUCTURE
• May build to a climax at end of story; may be written • Inverted pyramid: most important point first, fol-
in logical order with no single more important lowed by descending facts in order of importance
• Facilitates reading, headline writing, layout

• Refers to author’s techniques of expression • Refers mostly to preparation of copy and use of caps,

STYLE
• Subjective figures, punctuation, spelling; may refer to author’s
• Use of first person acceptable individual technique or expression
• Usually objective, simple and direct
• Definite limitations to use of the first person

• Usually have a topic sentence • Usually have topic sentences


• Any length acceptable • Should not exceed ‘xx’ words

PARAGRAPHS
• Most important point may be at end • Most important point at beginning
• Often depends on surrounding paragraphs • Usually contain one main idea; usually complete in
themselves and able to be removed without destroying
meaning

• Any type • Usually short, concise and direct

SENTENCES
• Any length • Avoid using important or unusual word twice in same
• Most important point anywhere sentence or too closely together in the same para-
graph
• Avoid beginning with the, it is, it was, there is, there
are

WORDS
• Any type used any way • Understood by average reader; written to be under-
stood quickly; not technical; specific and vivid; not
trite; active voice preferred

• Usually gathers data on which to base information • Reporter gathers facts through interviews and other

WRITER’S PREPARATION
• May write when or where he/she pleases research
• Author may determine length himself/herself • Must write for deadline
• Reporter usually must fit assigned length