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FSM 299       DO/TS
Urgent! Help Wanted: Family Journalists! By WS Pubs Team

© Copyrighted September 1996, The Family, Zurich, Switzerland

Table of Contents:
       --Want Ad       1
       --Tips on Writing for the Family--And the World!       2
       --Fun with the English Language!       9
              Tips for Proper English       10
              Don't Try Too Hard       10
              The Saga of Management Review of Writing Style       11
              A 'Glorious Mongrel'       11
              An Owed to the Spelling Checker       12
       --Learn from the Best!       13
       --Additional Reading       19
       --The Family Journalist's Checklist       20

       Make your dreams come true! Do you want to multiply your witness? Win supporters? Feed His sheep? Pioneer? Inspire the Family? Change the world? Family journalism is one ministry through which you can do all of that--and more!
       Limitless training opportunities! Language arts! Communications! Salesmanship! Public relations! Publications! Journalism provides grow-as-you-go experience in all of these related fields--and more!
       Better than a salary! Generate increased support from mail ministry and local sponsors! Help the worldwide Family bring in more finances! Share in the eternal rewards for souls won and lives changed! Few ministries can match journalism for returns on your time--both here and now and There and then!
       No experience needed! Journalism is a ministry that is best learned by doing! If you feel you're not much of a writer now, that's okay!--All the more room for Him to work and all the more glory to Him when He does!
       You don't even have to be a newsmaker to be a news reporter! Take Saint Luke, for example. As far as we know, he wasn't a great evangelist, soul-winner, miracle-worker, or public speaker.
       Apparently he didn't have many gifts that put him in the public spotlight, but what he did have was the ability to recognize those gifts in others. He knew when their activities and accomplishments were newsworthy. Because Luke had a vision for newsgathering, we have both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. While Jesus' disciples reached thousands directly with their personal ministries, through his news reports Luke has enabled them to spread the Lord's Message to hundreds of millions--and it hasn't stopped yet! They made a great team! Every fruitful Family Home should have a Luke or two.
       Want the job--and the crown? Then please read on!
* * *

Tips on Writing for the Family—And the World!
Everything You Need to Know Now!
       What do a good storyteller, a good novelist and a good journalist have in common? They all make their stories intensely believable, they cause you to identify and empathize with the people in their stories and they place you in the middle of the action. How do they do it?
       Both the novelist and the storyteller work in an anything-goes sort of world. They create their own "facts" and seem to have all the time in the world to build their characters and unfold their plots. The storyteller has an extra edge: He can use voice intonations, timing, gestures and facial expressions to help convey emotion and action to his listeners. Remember Madame Modjeska, the actress who moved a group of unsuspecting partygoers to tears by counting to 100 in Polish? (See Good Thots, pg. 813.)
       But the journalist—now there's a real artist, for he crafts his narratives in miniature! He finds a story that needs to be told and then, in the space of a few printed lines, makes it important to his readers.
       "Boy," you might say, "that sounds hard! In fact, it sounds like mission impossible!"
       Ah, yes, except that the journalist has one distinct advantage over the novelist and the storyteller: His stories deal with real people and true-life events. Truth is more wonderful than fiction! And the Family journalist or reporter is blessed above all others, for his stories have an extra spiritual dimension. They unlock mysterious truths, they speak straight to people's hearts, and they are made alive by His Spirit.
       "Okay, okay!" you might say next, "I'll give it a try. But where do I start?"
       Glad you asked that, because we just happen to have compiled some tips and guidelines to help you get started. Naturally, we do not expect you to incorporate all of these ideas into every article or report you write. Simply do your best to keep these points in mind and we're sure your news reports will turn out just great!
       You can not only apply the following tips when writing articles for the Family in The Grapevine, FSM, etc., or for the GP in the FAR, but also when writing your own personal or Home newsletter as a means of raising support or ministering to your friends and supporters. Most of these tips can also be applied to other kinds of writing you may do—articles for newspapers or magazines, PR brochures, presentations about your work to contacts or at business seminars, etc. The sky's the limit!

Is your story newsworthy?
       Before you begin writing, ask yourself: What makes this testimony of sufficient interest or importance to be worthy of my intended readers' time and attention?
       If you are writing for the public, how does it demonstrate that the Family is indeed "making a difference"? If you're writing for the Family, how will it encourage, inspire or help them do a better job for the Lord?
       If you can't answer the above questions, chances are you'll need to find another testimony.

What makes a news article outstanding?
       Every person we lead to the Lord is special, and no two ministries are exactly alike. The secret of good reporting is to capture that uniqueness in the details which are included or in the way the story is told. What makes your story unique? Capture that, and you've got the heart of an outstanding article!

Determine your target readership
       Who do you want to reach with your story? When writing any news report, this is your starting point. Who you decide to aim your story at will have a major bearing on how you relate the story, the details and background information you include, the vocabulary you use, etc. In other words, how you tell your testimony will depend on whether you are telling it to the Family or the GP, and/or whether your readers are mostly adults, teens, or children, etc.

Catch that story while it's hot!
       The best time to gather news is usually right after it takes place. Record testimonies on a dictaphone or other tape recorder, or write them in a notebook while traveling home from witnessing, or as they are being told over dinner, etc. When you are preparing the article later, you may need to go back and fill in a few missing details, retell the story for a different audience and/or do other editing, but you will already have the main points needed for your article, enthusiastically told, and that's half of the job.
       As you become more familiar with the who, what, when, where, why and how details needed for a good news article, you will learn to include those as you write your testimony or tell it on tape. Or, if you are helping to capture someone else's testimony, you'll learn what questions to ask in order to draw out the additional information you need to be able to write a well-rounded news article.

Who, what, when, where, why and how?
       Your story should tell the reader six basic facts: who, what, when, where, why and how.
       1. Who from the Family was involved, and who did they help?
       a) Explain how many Family members took part. If only a few, list their names or incorporate them into your article. If there are too many to list, tell how many and try to incorporate at least a couple of names into your story. Names help give the Family a "face." If the Family members' ages are relevant or would enhance the story, be sure to include them also. (You may also want to mention the young people's parents' names in order to identify them better. Last Bible names can help too.) If writing for the GP, try to use names (or assign aliases) that will sound normal to those who aren't familiar with some of our more unusual Family names.
       b) Approximately how many people did the Family help? Again, include the names of at least a few of them, if possible—at least their first names. You may also want to give their credentials where applicable, such as Ph.D., M.D., etc. If you feel it would be best not to give certain people's names, or feel that they may not appreciate being named in one of our pubs, you can assign them a substitute name for the sake of the article. This is a common practice in the media, when the person being reported about doesn't want their real name used in the article. (This is preferable to our former practice of using initials where security or privacy is a consideration.)
       2. What newsworthy event or activity was the Family involved in?
       3. When did it take place? Include specific dates for major events. In published articles, time frames such as "recently" and "last week" are usually meaningless. Also bear in mind that accounts of ongoing ministries carry extra weight. So if the activity or ministry being reported was or is an ongoing affair, give details of the frequency and duration. Examples: "Twice a week since mid-'94 our Home has been offering personal counseling to juvenile delinquents at the Bela Monte detention center." "At a hospital which we visit each month ..." "For three weeks during the aftermath of Hurricane Ryan ..."
       4. Where did it take place? Be as specific as possible. If the location is not a public place or event, and you feel those involved would rather their institution or business not be named, then you can just give a general description of what type of place it was. However, if it's possible to include the name of the location or institution, etc., it makes the story more interesting and credible, particularly when writing for the GP.
       5. Why was the Family's help needed and/or why were Family members motivated to get involved and respond to that need?
       6. How did the Family go about meeting the need and/or how did their actions make a difference in others' lives, either physically or spiritually or both?

Tailor your story to your target audience
       Reporting is like any other witnessing; you must try to put yourself in your readers' position and present your point in terms which they will be able to relate to, accept and appreciate. For more counsel along these lines, see "Watch Your Words" (ML #2849, GN 546); "To Win Some, Be Winsome" (ML #1855, Vol.15); "How to Witness to Pagans" (ML #2389, DB9).

Headline your article
       Give your article a title (headline) that will arouse your readers' interest. Titles should sound good and be catchy and at the same time tell the reader what the article is about: "There Are No Neutrals!" "Did God Make a Mistake?" "Shangri-La—Lost Horizon Found!" "I Am a Toilet!" "Sex Works!" If you can't think of a good headline when you begin writing, don't get hung up on that detail. It can be added later.
       Add subtitles if the article is long enough to warrant them, or if they would make the article clearer or more interesting.

Identify the author(s) with a byline
       If you are writing for the Family, list both the author's first and last Family names when possible. If you are writing specifically for the GP and your Family name is very unusual, you will probably want to use a pen name.
       In our Family pubs, we want to give credit where it is due. But unless you specify who wrote the article, we have to use the names given. This is why often the Home teamworkers are listed as having authored the testimony, since they sign the TRF and the author of the article or testimony was not listed. Please give us your name when you write an article, so we and the Family will know who wrote it—you!

Have a catchy opener
       Unless you grab your readers' attention within the first sentence or two, chances are they will either just skim the rest of your article or not even finish it. So the first paragraph is the most important part of your article.
       But don't worry if you can't think of a good opener right off; just start somewhere. A good opening line will probably come to you as you write the rest. Or start by writing an introduction, even if you know it's not that great, and maybe you'll get an idea of how to rewrite it later. Here are a few approaches you may want to try.
       Set the stage: "Imagine yourself in a remote Russian village. It's 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning, and apart from the last young revelers at two graduation parties and a few others, everyone is home and asleep. Suddenly and without warning ..."
       Open with a quote: "'Cooperate and give us what we want, or we will dynamite your house and everything in it—including you!' Without warning, 15 to 20 masked gunmen had stormed into our house. ..."
       Evoke sympathy: "When I met Reena about a year ago, she was bound to a wheelchair, paralyzed and virtually blind. Lupus was taking its toll. ..."
       Another important feature of the opening paragraph (or two) of your article is that it should give the reader a pretty good idea of what the story is about. You'll notice that longer newspaper articles summarize the story in the first paragraph or two, and then fill in more details in the rest of the article. This is done so that if people don't have time to read the entire article they can still get the main points from only a few paragraphs.

Give as many details as the situation permits
       Details such as names and specific locations add credibility to your report. Now that most of our Homes and ministries are much more open than they were in previous years, in most cases we can be more specific when we report on our activities. There is a balance, of course, as explained in the section "Check your article for security" (see page 7). If you must leave out details that a GP reader would probably expect your article to include, try to do so in a way that it does not give the impression that you are being evasive.

Include important or interesting background information
       Don't take it for granted that your readers know as much about the local situation as you do. For instance: Where is Sakhalin Island? How many were left homeless by the Kobe earthquake? In the case of natural disasters and major accidents or events, stats or other facts gleaned from newspapers or news broadcasts can help set the stage for your story, or help round it out. If you feel a few general facts would be helpful, dictionaries and encyclopedias offer concise, accurate information. If you directly quote your source or if your source generated the information you refer to, name that source in your article. "According to the World Health Report 1995, there may be as many as 100 million street children worldwide."
       A few minutes spent on research can result in worthwhile additions to your article, but don't carry it to an extreme and spend too much time on it.

Evoke a response
       Make your readers glad, sad or mad! "Unless it moves you, what good is it? Our business is moving people. We're trying to move them from one place to the other, one life to another, one spirit to another. We're trying to move them! Even the most factual report should be alive in the Spirit, vital, startling, awakening, changing! If it doesn't make somebody glad, mad, or sad, it's a failure! Every report ought to turn us on!" (MLs #328:46; 47:8,9, paraphrased).

Accentuate the positive!
       "Make every [EDITED: "testimony"] a sales talk! Accentuate the positive! Even if you've got bad news to tell'm, make it sound like good news!" (Mop 102:77).
       Try to be charitable in your presentation and choice of words. This includes avoiding statements which put other well-meaning groups or individuals in a bad light. For example, instead of saying, "Our show had more depth and life than those of other groups who perform at the orphanage," say, "The audience really liked our fresh approach and spiritual dimension which complemented the other groups who perform at the orphanage."

Lead your readers along
       Articles should follow some sort of a progression from beginning to end. In most cases this will be a chronological narration of events or conversations, but to make some stories more interesting or suspenseful, you may occasionally want to shuffle the order. For example, you may want to start with an especially exciting event or outstanding comment from the middle of the story and then go back and explain some of the less captivating details that led up to it.

Make a point
       Don't just tell a story, lead your reader to a worthwhile conclusion without sounding "preachy." End with a punch line, or at least on a strong note. Your parting thought is as important as your opening line.

Include dialogue where possible
       Presenting important statements or brief, significant conversations in dialogue form adds a personal element and breaks up the text. Dialogue is nearly always more appealing than explaining "she said that ... and then I told her that ... and then she said ..." The grammatical convention is to make a new paragraph each time the speaker changes. Example:
       "Why would you even consider taking your own life?" we asked.
       "I lost my girlfriend and my job," Peter replied. "What's left?"
       "Well, Jesus loves you, Peter," we assured him. "He understands and He can help you. ..."

Quote others
       Positive statements by others about your work make a far greater impression on your readers than you saying the same things yourself. "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips" (Pro.27:2). Include quotes from those you helped, other volunteers you worked alongside of, or those in positions of responsibility. Be sure to give their names and positions, and explain how they figured into the happening.

Be concise
       Write tight! Avoid repetition, as well as phrases and details which have no bearing on the outcome of your story or the point you are trying to make. Here's an example:
       "Last week we decided to take some of our children with us when we went to visit patients at a local hospital where we minister weekly. After we had been going from ward to ward for a while, our oldest child, Ruth, who is 11, walked up to a patient who was lying in his bed. ..."
       That could be shortened to read:
       "During our weekly visit to a local hospital, 11-year-old Ruth met a patient. ..."
       Other good examples of clear, concise storytelling can be found in the Bible, particularly the parables of Jesus. Of course, while striving for conciseness, don't omit important details that would make the story more interesting or unique. Pray for the right balance.

{\b Avoid hype and clichés}
       Try not to exaggerate, overstate, or gush. Use stock superlatives and adjectives sparingly. Overuse of words such as "really," "very," "quite," "incredible," "miraculously," "super," "heavy" and "precious"—all of which are intended to add emphasis—actually weaken rather than strengthen writing, and should be avoided. So do hype-charged adjective/noun combinations which are redundant or meaningless, like "honest truth," "absolute certainty," "total devastation," "terrible disaster," "awful heartbreak," "complete breakthrough," "real miracle," "total/complete miracle" and "supernatural miracle."
       Clichés are expressions which have been overused to the point that they have become trite and meaningless. This has happened to some originally meaningful Family expressions, which are still meaningful when used properly and sparingly. For example, it's best to reserve the term "desperate prayer" for truly desperate situations. We are supposed to "pray without ceasing" and our prayers should always be from our hearts, but not every prayer is desperate; some are prayers of praise and thanksgiving, or requests for the Lord's help and guidance in small matters. We all have our "NWOs," but when writing about them it sometimes may be more meaningful and refreshing to refer to them as "weaknesses," "problems," "bad habits," "weak points," "shortcomings," "faults," "foibles" or "mistakes." Instead of always saying So-and-so had a "radical change," perhaps you could say they had a "U-turn," "about-face," "transformation," "turnabout," "conversion," or "metamorphosis." Used properly, a broader vocabulary can strengthen your writing and better retain the interest of the reader.

Check your own article
       Read over your news article to see if any points could be made clearer or improved upon. Have you included the six basics: who, what, when, where, why and how? Most writing can benefit from some rewriting or fine-tuning. The writer's maxim is, "There is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting." In fact, some writers find that it's actually quicker and easier for them to plan on rewriting their work than struggling to get it perfect the first time. They rattle off a rough draft, then go back and make improvements. Whichever approach you take, don't edit out the inspiration. As you edit:
       -- Smooth out awkward sentences.
       -- Clarify unclear sentences.
       -- Break up run-on sentences or phrases into shorter ones.
       -- Delete repetition.
       -- Delete weak parts.
       -- Correct the punctuation.
       -- Correct the spelling.
       -- Look for extra or missing words, mixed homonyms (i.e., "to" instead of "too," or "there" instead of "their") and typographical errors which change the intended word to another (i.e., "from" becomes "form," or "three" becomes "tree"). Computer spelling checkers will catch outright misspellings, but not these other errors.

Ask others to read your article
       After working hard to write an article, it is often difficult to see it through the eyes of the intended reader. That's when a little constructive criticism from a couple other Home members can be a big help. If others read your article and still have questions, chances are your intended readership will also.
       Criticism of one's work, no matter how valid or lovingly presented, can sometimes be hard to take. If sensitivity strikes, remind yourself of these two big plus points: Your article will be better in the long run, which is the goal, and the experience will help you to grow as a writer.

A picture is worth a thousand words!
       In the past, we've had to refrain from publishing pictures for security reasons. However, with the increased openness of our Homes, we'd like to start using photos again to document news articles whenever possible. Praise the Lord!
       We're sure you'll agree that photos not only catch your readers' attention and help tell your story, but also add credibility. They take your readers to where you are, and people can't help but see the Lord's Love and happiness shining through you. The Family will also enjoy seeing your beautiful faces as they read about your activities and adventures. Good photos are well worth the extra thought, effort and cost involved.
       The Family's WEB site already includes many photos, and we hope to begin including more in some GP pubs. Praise the Lord! So please send us prints of the best photos that go with your news reports and articles, and we'll try to publish as many as we can.
       If you send your article by modem or with your TRF, and your picture comes separately to us by mail, be sure to include a note in your article stating that photos are following.—And then include a note with the photos, explaining what article they correspond to.
       What we are looking for, in a nutshell, are photos that tell the story. The best photos are usually action shots with people in the foreground and a background that clearly identifies the location or event. You will find terrific counsel on how to take award-winning photos in the articles on photography in How to Get Things Done, pages 244-251.
       Include captions which identify the people, place and/or subject matter. Please type your captions, if possible, and tape or paste each one to the back of the corresponding photo. If you write your captions by hand, avoid using a felt pen (these can smear onto the next picture) and avoid marking too heavily with a ball-point pen (creases the photo).
       When sending photos for possible publication, on the back of each photo please be sure to include:
       1) caption
       2) date photo was taken
       3) photographer's name for credits
       4) Home number
       5) title of the article the photo corresponds to
       6) note whether or not it is for possible publication

Check your article for security
       Have your Home teamwork (or others whom your Home designates for this responsibility) check the content of your article with the security of your Home, local work and contacts in mind. While we want to encourage you to be as specific in your reporting as possible, especially when writing for the GP, we don't want to jeopardize your good work by publishing details that could make you and/or your contacts possible targets for our detractors or other elements of the anti-cult movement (ACM). Some situations are more sensitive than others. If your work is well established and your contacts are sufficiently well-grounded and prepared to take the heat, you can include more names, specific locations, etc., than if you are reporting on a pioneer ministry involving new contacts. In countries where the work is more open and the Family is known, you may be able to include more details than if you're in a semi-closed country or sensitive pioneer field. Your CRO office and/or WS will try to act as double-checks, but because you know your situation best, the primary responsibility for security-checking your articles is on you! If you send in an article for publication, we will generally assume that the names and places included in the article are okay to publish.

Indicate whether or not your news reports and/or photos are for possible publication.
       Reports written by Family members generally fall into two categories: Those written for possible publication, and those intended to be read by their shepherds only. Please indicate which is the case (i.e., the intended purpose of your report) by adding one of the following notes at the beginning of each article:


       If you indicate that an article is for possible publication, we will assume that it does not contain any details which you feel might jeopardize your own or others' security. Likewise, we will assume that any photos you send in for possible publication have been checked by you for security.

Send computer files whenever possible!
       If you are able to type your news articles on a computer, please send the files along with your TRF, either by e-mail or modem, or on disk. This will simplify and greatly speed up their processing, as well as lighten the load of the CRO offices who otherwise would have to type your article.
       If you add a pub extension to your filename, this will also help speed the processing of your testimony. Perhaps you could name your file with your Home number, the current month, and then a pub extension: JA423_06.pub, for example.

Include a news brief
       If your article is over a page long, and if you have time, we'd appreciate it if you could also condense or summarize the main points into a one- or two-paragraph "news brief." That way, we may be able to publish your brief in The Grapevine or the FAR and, if the article is about an outstanding event or contains good lessons for all, we may also print the longer version in an FSM, or FAR Special Issue. This is essentially what we do already—edit lengthy reports to a few paragraphs in order to make them conform to the brief Grapevine and FAR formats—but we'd really appreciate your help. If you do a brief, please be sure to send us your full article also; especially on important events, we need both the brief and the full article.

Send timely reports immediately!
       Most of your news reports can be included with your monthly TRF, but if you have a timely story—especially one related to an event that has made international headlines—please don't wait till the end of the month. Write your news report and send it in as soon as possible! If possible, send your report by e-mail or modem, to make sure we get it fairly quickly.

Learn from others
       You can learn a lot about writing from what you read. Once you begin writing news articles of your own, you will learn to tune in more to how others write. The "Power and Protection" mags, for example, provide excellent models of simple yet well-written, captivating testimonies. Or if you're writing an article for possible publication in the FAR, you may want to reread a few articles that have already been published in the FAR to get ideas of how your story could unfold or how to pack all the necessary information into a few short paragraphs without making it sound terse or formal.

Keep reporting!
       Please don't get discouraged if your reports aren't published for the worldwide Family. There are several reasons why some very well-written articles do not get printed. Limited space is a major factor, but so is timing. For example, we may not be able to print an FSM of witnessing testimonies the same month that a series of more timely FSMs are being sent out, as our pubs units can only produce so much and the Family can only read and absorb so much. But even if we are not able to publish some of your reports, we trust that they will be welcome additions to your area or local newsletters and inspire your friends and contacts. We know that the Lord will bless your writing efforts if you will continue to pray and keep investing your talents! He never fails!

Thank you, and welcome to the team!
       A special thank you to those of you who have sacrificed your time and strength and other activities to write testimonies for the Family. Without your contributions, many of our Family publications would not be possible. Again, we wish we could publish more of them, but be assured that they are all recorded in God's big book and "He is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love" (Heb.6:10). Thank you for your prayers for us as we take your articles through the pipeline—from you to the rest of the Family! Each time you pray for those of us on the WS Pubs team, we get a needed boost in the spirit. We couldn't do our job without your prayers, so please keep them coming!
       And to those of you who will be writing and sending in your first news reports in response to this FSM, welcome to the team! We love and appreciate you, and have you in our prayers!
       Love always,
       Your WS Pubs Team
* * *

Fun with the English Language!
By WS Pubs Team
       If your immediate impulse is to bolt for the door at the first mention of a split infinitive or dangling participle, don't despair! That doesn't mean you're not cut out to be a Family reporter, writer or editor. And you are not alone. Take it from one WS editor who probably knows less than you do: You don't have to understand all the terms assigned to the grammatical do's and don'ts of the language in order to write, any more than you need to understand electricity in order to use it.
       Sometimes it's enough simply to know when something's wrong. It's a bit like the anecdote Dad used to tell about the old black woman who was asked to explain unction. "Ah don' know what it am," she said, "but I sho' knows when it ain't!" In other words, she knew when the preacher was anointed and when he wasn't (ML #140:33).
       However, if you do understand the why's and wherefore's, you can have more confidence that your writing is correct, so a very good case can be made for learning the terms and mechanics of the language.
       "But grammar is so boring," you say. Well, you're right—it can be, but it doesn't have to be! Below are a few articles that show how you can have fun playing around with words. In the first article below, for example, the author uses a tongue-in-cheek approach to explain his rules by breaking them! (Note to Family teachers: You may find this little list provides a good exercise for your English class. Have students look up words they don't know, or spot how the sentence breaks the rule that the writer is presenting, and repeat the tip in their own words.)

Tips for Proper English
AP Wire Service
       -- Avoid alliteration. Always.
       -- Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
       -- Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
       -- Remember to never split an infinitive.
       -- Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
       -- One should never generalize.
       -- Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
       -- Be more or less specific.
       -- One-word sentences? Eliminate.
       -- Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
       -- The passive voice is to be avoided.
       -- Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
       -- Don't never use a double negative.
       -- capitalize every sentence and remember always end it with a period
       -- Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
       -- If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
       -- A writer must not shift your point of view.
       -- And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)*
       -- Don't overuse exclamation marks!!
       -- Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
       -- Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
       -- Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague. They're old hat; seek viable alternatives.

       (*These two rules do not always apply to more casual writing, which is what most Family writing is. In fact, sometimes adhering to these rules can make your writing sound stilted and almost laughable. Winston Churchill made that point skillfully in this reply to someone who criticized him for ending a sentence in one of his speeches with a preposition: "That is precisely the sort of criticism up with which I will not put."—Ha! And while you should generally avoid starting sentences with a conjunction [EDITED: "e.g., "and," "so," "but""], you may have also noticed that we've violated this rule several times in this FSM.)

Don't Try Too Hard
       Mama wrote a whole Letter about redundancy, entitled "When Ye Pray, Use Not Vain Repetitions" (ML #2914). Another problem can be when we try too hard to be dramatic or to use big words, and end up sounding foolish, too high-brow, pretentious, or worse yet—not getting the point across. Good writing is simple and powerful. The following is taken from a famous book on writing and editing, The Elements of Style, by Will Strunk and E.B. White:

       To show what happens when strong writing is deprived of its vigor, George Orwell once took a passage from the Bible and drained it of its blood. First is Orwell's translation; next, the verse from Ecclesiastes (King James Version):

George Orwell's version:
       Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must inevitably be taken into account.

King James' version:
       I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all (Ecc.9:11).

The Saga of Management Review of Writing Style
Internet posting
       Here's another example of someone who tried too hard—in this case to please his or her overbearing boss—and, well, you'll see ...

       Question: How many feet do mice have?
       Original reply: Mice have four feet.
       Comment by management: Elaborate!

Revision 1: Mice have five appendages, and four of them are feet.
       Management: No discussion of fifth appendage!

Revision 2: Mice have five appendages; four of them are feet and one is a tail.
       Management: What? Feet with no legs?

Revision 3: Mice have four legs, four feet and one tail per unit-mouse.
       Management: Confusing—is that a total of 9 appendages?

Revision 4: Mice have four leg-foot assemblies and one tail assembly per body.
       Management: Does not fully discuss the issue!

Revision 5: Each mouse comes equipped with four legs and a tail. Each leg is equipped with a foot at the end opposite the body; the tail is not equipped with a foot.
       Management: Descriptive? Yes. Forceful? NO!

Revision 6: Allotment appendages for mice will be: Four leg-foot assemblies, one tail. Deviation from this policy is not permitted as it would constitute misapportionment of scarce appendage assets.
       Management: Too authoritative; stifles creativity!

Revision 7: Mice have four feet; each foot is attached to a small leg joined integrally with the overall mouse structural sub-system. Also attached to the mouse sub-system is a thin tail, non-functional and ornamental in nature.
       Management: Too verbose/scientific. Answer the question!

Final revision approved by management: Mice have four feet.

Where Did the English Language Come From?
A 'Glorious Mongrel'
U.S. News and World Report
       Did you know that three-fourths of the English language is derived from other languages? The following article contains fun facts about words that have made their way into English usage. Discovering word origins can be interesting. It can also help you "fix" those words in your vocabulary so they're more likely to come to mind when you need just the right word to express a point in writing. As you learn to use old words with new "with it" words, your writing will sparkle.

       Back in 1780, John Adams urged the creation of an American academy with a lofty mission—to keep the English language pure. The Continental Congress, preoccupied with other challenges (such as winning independence from Britain), let the proposal die. And wisely so. It would have been like giving a courtesan a chastity belt for her birthday. "The English language," as [EDITED: "American poet"] Carl Sandburg once observed, "hasn't got where it is by being pure."
       The language that many now seek to shore up against the babel of America's multicultural masses is itself a SMORGASBORD (Swedish) of words borrowed from foreign tongues. Three out of four words in the dictionary, in fact, are foreign born. Sometimes anglicized, sometimes not, many loan words are so familiar that most English speakers are aware of their exotic origins only vaguely if at all. We can borrow SUGAR from a neighbor only because English borrowed the word from Sanskrit centuries ago. Ask your PAL (Romany) to go to the OPERA (Italian), and he may prefer instead to go hunting in the BOONDOCKS (Tagalog), to play POLO (Tibetan) or to visit the ZOO (Greek) to test his SKILL (Danish) at milking a CAMEL (Hebrew), after which he may need a SHAMPOO (Hindi). Whether silly or scholarly, many sentences have equally rich lineages, illustrating Dorothy Thompson's APHORISM (Greek) that English is a "glorious and imperial mongrel" (MONGREL, fittingly, being pure English).
       English itself is one of history's most energetic immigrants. Three northern European tribes, the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, got the enterprise started by invading Britain around A.D. 449. The Vikings arrived from Scandinavia in A.D. 793 to mix it up, battle-ax against battle-ax, adverb against adverb. The Norse and Anglo-Saxon tongues melded, enriching the word hoard. Example: You REARED a child (Anglo-Saxon) or RAISED a child (Norse). As every schoolchild used to know, the Norman French conquered England in 1066. The language of the Saxon peasantry then conquered the Norman aristocracy. The result was a tongue that kept its Germanic structure but took in a huge new vocabulary of French words and through it Latin and Greek terms. Traders, warriors, scholars, pirates and explorers all did their part to advance English's cosmopolitan destiny.
       The language was happily spiced with words from 50 languages even before the opening of the New World offered fresh avenues. Americans quickly became known for their own coinages, the many "Americanisms" they invented—words like GROUNDHOG, LIGHTNING ROD, BELITTLE (minted by Thomas Jefferson), SEABOARD—new words for a new land. But American English also adopted American Indian terms (mostly place names) and welcomed useful words brought across the water by immigrants. The Dutch supplied PIT (as found in fruit) and BOSS (as found in the front office), SLEIGH, SNOOP and SPOOK. Spanish supplied FILIBUSTER and BONANZA; Yiddish enabled Americans to KIBITZ SCHMUCKS who sold SCHLOCK or made SCHMALTZ.
       Today, after 1,500 years of promiscuous acquisitiveness, the vocabulary of English is vast. The Oxford English Dictionary lists more than 600,000 words; German has fewer than one-third that number, French fewer than one-sixth. What makes English mammoth and unique is its great sea of synonyms, words with roughly the same meaning but different connotations, different levels of formality and different effects on the ear. Anglo-Saxon words are blunt, Latin words learned, French words musical. English speakers can calibrate the tone and meter of their prose with great precision. They may END (Anglo-Saxon), FINISH (French) or CONCLUDE (Latin) their remarks. A girl can be FAIR (Anglo-Saxon), BEAUTIFUL (French) or ATTRACTIVE (Latin). A bully may evoke FEAR (Anglo-Saxon), TERROR (French) or TREPIDATION (Latin).
       Its depth and precision have helped make English the foremost language of science, diplomacy and international business—and the medium of T-shirts from Tijuana to Timbuktu. It is the native tongue of 350 million people and a second language for 350 million more. Half the books being published in the world are in English; so is 80 percent of the world's computer text. While Americans debate bilingualism, foreigners learn English. Its popularity is fed by U.S. wealth and power, to be sure. But Richard Lederer, author of The Miracle of Language and other books on the peculiarities of English, believes the language's "internationality" has innate appeal. Not only are English's grammar and syntax relatively simple, the language's sound system is flexible and "user friendly"—foreign words tend to be pronounced the same as in their original tongues. "We have the most cheerfully democratic and hospitable language that ever existed," Lederer says. "Other people recognize their language in ours."

An Owed to the Spelling Checker
By Jerry Zar, Dean of the
Graduate School, Northwestern Illinois University

       Here's a classic example of what a spell check can miss!

       I have a spelling checker
       It came with my PC.
       It plane lee marks four my revue
       Miss steaks aye can knot sea.
       Eye ran this poem threw it,
       Your sure reel glad two no.
       Its vary polished in its weigh,
       My checker tolled me sew.
       A checker is a bless sing,
       It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
       It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
       And aides me when aye rime.
       Each frays come posed up on my screen
       Eye trussed too bee a joule.
       The checker pour sower every word
       To cheque sum spelling rule.
       Be fore a veiling checkers
       Hour spelling mite decline,
       And if were lacks or have a laps,
       We wood be maid to wine.
       Butt now bee cause my spelling
       Is checked with such grate flare,
       Their are know faults with in my cite,
       Of non eye am a wear.
       Now spelling does knot phase me,
       It does knot bring a tier.
       My pay purrs awl due glad den
       With wrapped words fare as hear.
       To rite with care is quite a feet
       Of witch won should be proud.
       And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
       Sew flaws are knot aloud.
       Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
       Such soft ware four pea seas.
       And why I brake in two averse
       By righting want too pleas.
* * *

Learn from the Best!
       Over the years Dad and Mama have offered us a wealth of counsel on how to be inspired and anointed in our witness to the world. Much of that counsel was directed to our artists, musicians and songwriters, but in many cases it can also be applied to writing and editing. Some of the quotes in the following compilation have been edited or paraphrased in order to more clearly show how the principles apply to the ministry of Family journalism.

It's only Jesus
       In the famous beautiful 15th chapter of John, Jesus says, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in Me!" (Jn.15:4).
       You must be firmly implanted in the Vine where you're receiving the juice and the sap and the nourishment that you need directly from the Lord Himself.—And a lot of how you grow is up to you, by how much nourishment you receive!
       He said, "Without Me ye can do nothing" (Jn.15:5). But if you are dwelling in the Vine, as one of the branches, then you can produce the beautiful leaves and the beautiful fruit that you need to produce so that He may be glorified and have much fruit! (DM2:257, adapted).

       Before the Lord is going to do great miracles in your writing and editing ministry, you need to realize that it is nothing of you and it is only a gift from Him, and when you acknowledge this to yourself and others, He'll be able to show what great things He can do! If you have any feeling that it has been you or your natural talent and abilities, then you'd better dispense with those attitudes and ideas right away so that the Lord can show His greatness and His power, because if you don't, you'll be standing in God's way, struggling in your own flesh trying to write articles that don't really make it because He won't bless them ("Why Settle for Less than the Best?" by Maria, FSM 10, adapted).

       What makes your work really great is the greatness God gives you—the spirit, the inspiration! It's the Lord behind it all—behind and above and underneath and on all sides! (DM2:174, adapted).

Believe that He can do it through you
       Every calling is great when greatly pursued for God's glory! God can inspire you in anything you do! No matter what it is, you can do it in the Spirit! And every task, whatever it is, He can make glorious! Even if perhaps you don't have the most talent or experience, God can use you! In fact, that is the way the Lord usually works.—He takes the weak things to confound the mighty and He takes the people that really aren't the best in a worldly sense, so He can show what He can do! (See 1Cor.1:26-28.)
       And although you may not be the greatest in the eyes of the world, you're the greatest in the eyes of the Lord because you're serving and obeying Him!—And He can make you strong when you're weak, to show it's His strength and His miraculous power! (DM2:174).

       God doesn't expect you to do it. All He expects you to do is yield to Him and He'll do it through you. When you turn on a water faucet, the faucet is not doing the work! It's the power from outside that causes the water to flow effortlessly through the faucet! The faucet is just the channel, just the hole, to let the water flow out! That's the secret!
       If you're full of the Spirit, full of prayer, full of the Lord, full of the Word, then you can just let it roll! Ask God to turn you on and it will flow! You'll be amazed, it will be beautiful! (DM2:187).

{\b Pray for the gift—and spirit help}
       We've got the benefit now of a tremendous army of departed saints, men of God, great men of wisdom, administrators, kings, prophets, psalmists and many others whose marvelous talents and abilities are not lost and gone forever way off in some heavenly places! God can call on them to give us whatever we need. They continue to minister!
       You can have your genie at your command, your heavenly angel who will do what you want done, your own personal messenger to help you carry out the work of God! You just need to want it, ask and receive it by faith! (DM2:330).

       With all the great writers who have gone to be with the Lord, we ought to have a lot of spirit help, for what better job could they have than to help us? They should have learned a little bit more by now of what we need for today, so we should have a lot of help in the Spirit! The Lord has said that if we ask we will receive, and with all the literary greats in the spirit world, think of all the help that is at our disposal, if we'll only ask!
       Why should we settle for mediocre articles when we can have the best? Why should we settle for less than the best? We don't want to be like the preacher who said, "Just any old car, Lord!" Why don't we ask for the outstanding and the exceptional? Why don't we get specific and ask for the best?
       Why shouldn't we be able to get the best?—We're living for the Lord, we're working for Him and we have the right motive for wanting the best. You aren't writing for your own glory or wealth, but to win the world, to win the lost, to do the Lord's work, and that is why you can ask Him for the best!
       I think you ought to pray as much as possible that the Lord will lead us in our writing and editing by special revelation and inspiration. I think He tries to, but our channel is sometimes a little weak, and although He gives it, the human vehicle may sometimes miss parts, or we may only be able to get some parts roughly, so you must also pray that you will be inspired for the pick-and-shovel work as well.
       You should pray for a clear connection and direct open channel, because time is so short and the need so great! The Lord can give it to you on a silver platter, but He doesn't always do it that way. Sometimes you really have to work at it, and it takes a lot of work and a lot of prayer to get your writing or editing project to the point where it has all of the right qualities.
       But whether it comes from a direct revelation or through a lot of pick-and-shovel work, the Lord is the One Who gives it and we've got to pray it through. He's the One that placed the hidden treasure that we're trying to dig up, He knows where it is and only He can direct us to it!—And only He can help us in the refining and polishing of it. So no matter how much work or how little we have to put into it, it's still all the Lord and we have to give Him all the glory! ("Why Settle for Less than the Best?" by Maria, FSM 10, adapted).

       It's like the way the Family artists visualize the posters—they're not photographs! With the things I've actually seen, all I've been able to do is tell the artists what I saw. They couldn't photograph it, so they had to do their best to get the vision, use their imagination and paint it to try to make it look like what it sounded like!—As well as getting direct visions themselves that the Lord promised.
       You've got to sort of visualize it and envision it and sort of picture the story, so you write what you see and what you hear in your mind and your heart about this person or that person, etc. Just exactly like when the artists take a blank piece of paper and lay it down in front of them and they've got to see the picture on it before they can even draw it, when you put that blank piece of paper in your typewriter, you've got to see the story on it even before you write it. You've got to see a picture of the story.
       So you're both getting visions!—The artists get visions and you writers get visions! That's the way it goes—or comes, I should say! So don't be afraid! If you ask for bread He'll not give you a stone. If you ask for a fish He'll not give you a serpent (Mat.7:9,10). Ask Him to help you see it, then all you have to do is describe it, write it down! That's what I do! You can call it imagination if you want to, but you've got to picture it! If you realize imagination is merely picturing something in your mind, well, "every good and perfect gift cometh from Above" (Jam.1:17). So if you're asking Him for the picture or the story and you get a good one in your head, the world might call it imagination, but I call it vision! You just get the vision! You've got to get the vision before you can write the story! ("Heavenly Exclusive!—Poster Parables!" ML #2048, Vol.16).

Fill up your heart
       My grandfather was an orator of the old school, a great writer, great teacher, preacher and lecturer, and he really knew the language and he knew his grammar and his style and his oratory. He was an artist at it. And whenever he made a speech or a lecture, he never used notes!
       So I asked him one time, "Grandfather, how do you do it? How are you so fluent, and you cover all these points, and sometimes in a one, two, three, four order and all this sort of thing"—he was a very analytical lecturer—"and you go on and on with all these illustrations and stories and never seem to forget anything. You're never at a loss for words, you hardly ever pause, it just pours out! How do you do it? How do you know what you're going to say? Don't you ever forget anything?" And he told me something I have never forgotten, and I thank the Lord for it, because I've used it ever since.
       He said, "David, I do my studying beforehand.—I read, I study, I think, I pray and I get totally full of my subject, so that then when I stand on the platform to speak, out of the fullness of my heart the mouth speaketh." He said, "If I have any advice at all for you as a young writer, get full of your subject and then just write 'out of the fullness of your heart' (Lk.6:45) and God will inspire you, God will lead you."
       Do your studying, your work, your reading and note-taking beforehand, and be so full of your subject that you don't have to stop, it just rolls out by inspiration! To me that's just wonderful, that God will lead me and guide me in what to say and inspire me with thoughts.
       Now if you're inspired of the Spirit and you ask God to help you in your writing or editing, and if you're full of your subject, out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketh. By this time you should be full of your subject. Your little mind should be a computer which has memory cells that are just packed with information and experience and instances and illustrations and stories from the Word. Just let it flow naturally as much as you can.
       Write or edit from your heart, pray for the inspiration of God, ask God to please help you give them what they need. When I start speaking or start writing a Letter, Maria and I both pray, "Lord, give me what they need. Help me to feed the sheep, help me to give them the food that they need, the instruction that they need." And I believe He answers those prayers.
       If your heart is full of Jesus and the truth, that's what you'll give them and it'll be what they need. Just trust God that that's the answer and that's the thing, pass it on and leave the rest for the Lord. Trust God! Amen? PTL! ("Fill Up Your Heart!" ML #1853, DB7, adapted).

       Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks! We're the vessels of His Love to pour out His Love to others. It's all the Lord, it's all His Love, but He needs something to work through. We're the channels and tools in His hand!
       "Open your mouth," the Bible says, "and He will fill it" (Psa.81:10). But where does He fill it from? He fills it from your heart. If you have filled your heart beforehand, if you're full of the Spirit, if you're full of His Love, His Spirit and knowledge of His Word, the message you want to get across to others, when you open your mouth He'll fill it, right out of your heart! It just rolls out by inspiration (DM2:187).

Pray down glory
       What a difference the Spirit makes! It's the emotional thing: That's the thing that really counts, not a technical perfection. The words the Pharisees spoke were well educated, but they were flesh and they were death! Why? Because they spoke from their heads and Jesus spoke from His heart—from the Spirit. That's the difference!
       When God has given you a story to write and you can write it with divine anointing and real inspiration of the Lord and by the power of His Spirit, it becomes that creation of God! ("Glamour or Glory?" ML #328, DB6, adapted).

Write with love
       You've got to write things in love. If you don't have love, all your talents are no good at all! (1Cor.13). You have to be loving in the first place, you have to be sympathetic and understanding of people's problems.
       If you don't have compassion, if you don't have love, if you're not doing this because "the Love of Christ constraineth me" and you're sorry for these poor people and you want to help them, you are never going to get anywhere!
       Do like Jesus did: Come down to their level, live with them, see their problems, sympathize with them. "We have not a High Priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all things tempted like as we are" (Heb.4:15). Read the 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians every day to know what love is.
       Our Family writers must show compassion, love, feeling, sympathy, understanding, comprehension of what the poor person's problem is. And if they have the Spirit of God's Love, they will show these things ("Without Love It's Nothing!" ML #1819, DB2, adapted).

Write to somebody
       Think about the Lord and the souls out there who need your message. Write directly to them, write with inspiration, write from your heart. Speak to individuals, not to just the masses and millions. Make it personal. Aim at somebody!
       Ask God to give you the vision of somebody that needs help and write straight to them. He can give you a picture of some poor lost soul that's out there dying or something and really needs your help, some poor little lost sheep, that teenager, that old man, that housewife. Ask God to give you that vision, to see somebody out there to whom you're writing, that you might really stir and inspire them and encourage them and feed them and get the message across to them. Sow the seed of the Word in their heart so they will really respond and get saved, wonderfully saved and filled with His Spirit and healed and on-fire for God, spreading the Word themselves wherever they are.
       Think of those to whom you're ministering and project your love to them and keep your minds and hearts on them and the Lord, and God will bless you and make you a tremendous blessing if you'll really love them all the way! (Dad's counsel to MWM on "Sing to Somebody," Wildwind tape, 9/80, adapted).

More on accentuate the positive
       There is a positive kind of witnessing or writing and there is a negative kind of witnessing or writing. My Mother was a strong advocate of preaching positively and showing love. Almost her favorite Scripture was when Jesus said, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me!" (John 12:32). Just present the truth and the truth will take care of the lies. You don't try to fight the darkness, you just let the light in!
       Let's just be loving and full of love and love others and try to give them the truth, preach the Gospel and lift up Christ, and He will draw all men unto Him!—Otherwise you're going to drive them away instead of draw them. He that would win some, must be winsome!—Not belligerent and contentious and contradictory and fighting, but sweetly, gently, lovingly wooing and winning with Love! ("To Win Some, Be Winsome!—Don't Slam'm!" ML #1855:9, Vol.15, adapted).

       God's Word tells us to publish the glad tidings, not the sad tidings! "Whatsoever things are of good report, think on these things" (Phi.4:8). Let's talk about Jesus! Let's talk about Love—His Love!—Let's just hear what Jesus has done—in you and through you and by you and about you and to you and with you and for you—and all about Jesus! (DM1:209).

       Title things positively by the solution rather than negatively by the problem (Mop 95:31).

       Put your best foot forward, the weakest point or the saddest news in the middle, then end on another positive note ("Without Love It's Nothing!" ML #1819, DB2).

Watch your words
       This is an important lesson on communication! To effectively communicate, both parties have to assign the same meaning to words; they have to define words and concepts the same way. We can talk all we want to about a lot of wonderful things, but unless we help people to understand exactly what we mean, they may be getting everything all wrong, because they will be interpreting everything by their own meanings. There will be serious misunderstandings because one person defines a word one way and another person another way, so actually they're not talking about the same thing, but instead two different things.
       It's very important that we make ourselves clear as to exactly what we mean. If there is any chance that the person to whom we are speaking will not understand our terminology, we should either define it the way we are using it, or use another term that will better express what we mean and will be given the same definition by both us and the person we're talking to.
       No matter how much we may like our terminology it's not going to do us much good to use these terms with outsiders unless they understand exactly what we mean when we use them. In fact, it may just turn them off. However, if we define these terms or use terms that are understandable to them, we can present them with our alternative.
       It's up to us, it's our responsibility to make clear what we mean. We can't expect people to read our minds, and unless we teach them our meaning of the System terms we use, all they are going to know is the worldly definition, and that term might be negative in their minds, like "Gypsies" and "conquering" things. In this case, we have assigned a positive meaning to the term "conquer" as it applies to us and our life, whereas the worldly definition of the word has a completely different meaning.
       The word "love" is also subject to various interpretations, and that's why unfortunately we have had to tone down our expressions of love to the general public and be much more cautious and wise in our usage of "I love you." While we know that we're talking about the Lord loving them through us, they have no idea that this love has anything to do with the Lord, and of course they define it as they always do, as a very fleshly, carnal, sexual thing.
       So in order to keep from being misunderstood, we need to use other words to describe how we feel, and we have to more clearly and specifically define what we're talking about.
       It's part of our job to learn to effectively communicate with people if we want to get our Message of Love across to them. We will have to learn to say it in words that will accurately convey to them what we mean. If the words we are using do not do that, we will have to find some other phraseology or some other terms. It's not their fault that they misunderstand. We have one idea and we know what we mean, but we can't expect them to read our minds.
       Sometimes we can't help offending people. But if they're going to be offended because we haven't explained ourselves, then we can't blame it on them.
       We have to change our way of expressing ourselves in Family "lingo" and substitute some more relatable terms in order for the System to understand.
       Some terms we'll need to be careful about are "chasten," "chastise," "discipline" and "correct." We need to really consider what they mean to the System and try to use terms that the System will understand. Most of our corrections of our teens are more like counseling sessions, and in some cases it might be better to use the word "counseling" than "correction'." {\b (—Try }training{\b .—D.)}
       So just try to always think about the person to whom you are writing, and try to relate to them and put yourself in their place. Write to them in a way they can understand and this will make it much easier for them to accept what you have to say. There will be some people, of course, who will never accept it no matter how well they understand, but at least then you've done everything you can to reach them. So use words they can understand, situations they can relate to, reasons they can comprehend. So again, the principle of "explain, explain" is wise to follow ("Watch Your Words!" by Maria, ML #2849, GN 546, adapted).

Get it right
       When Maria and I were doing the first Letters in Israel and Cyprus we went over every word, every letter, every paragraph, every underline personally, both of us, and made sure it was exactly right and said what we wanted it to say and it was spelled right, punctuated right, underlined right, emphasized right and that it was right!—And what we wanted to say to the Family!
       Right was the most important thing!—Accuracy was our motto, although maybe not perfect typing, but I thought Maria did a good job.—It was readable, it was legible, it was accurate, it was spelled right, punctuated right, underlined right and paragraphed right and you knew what I meant. And Maria knew what I meant, and read it and agreed with it, and that was the way it was supposed to be!
       I was taught in business school, where I learned both typing and steno typing, that accuracy was far more important than speed, that it was more important to get it right. Our teachers taught us that speed will come with practice and that as you continue to type, it will just come automatically. You don't have to rush or push, just get it right!—As you gain in experience and practice, you will naturally gain in speed, but the main thing is to get it right ("Get It Right!" ML #1860, DB2). ({\ul \i Editor's note}: This is just as true of writing and editing as it is of the more mechanical aspects of the job, such as typing, formatting, etc.)

       Those corrections which are absolutely necessary to clarify the meaning must be made! We cannot have going into print and possibly falling into the hands of our enemies such mistakes as that classic which was supposed to read: "It was God!"—But they dropped the "t" on the "It," completely changing the entire meaning and turning it into the horrendous and blasphemous pronouncement: "I was God!"—Exactly what our enemies accuse us of claiming! Such corrections must be made!
       Have at least two or three people proofread your final finished copy who know spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and even understand the meaning of the letter and will make it right! ("Corrections!" ML #156A, DB5). ¨
* * *

Additional Reading
       --"Secrets of Successful Writing," CLTP 28
       --Writing classes in How to Love, pages 173-293
       --Grammar and spelling classes in How to Get Things Done, pages 100-157
       --More on headlining ("Advice on Publications," ML #156B:1-3, DB5)
       --Logs and news stories ("Letters IV," ML #55:26-33, DB4; "Mountain Island Villa Found," ML #63:1, DB4)
       --"Tips on Writing Testimonies!--News, Details and Emotion!" (Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So, FSM 168, pages 1-6)
       --Grammar, Family Terminology and More! (Hope 53, pages 9-20)
       --"Family Terms Translation Guide" (FSM 150, pages 3-6)
* * *

The Family Journalist's Checklist

Before you begin:
       --Is it newsworthy?
       --Does it contain information or details that make it unique or outstanding?

Checking your article:
       --Does it tell who, what, when, where, why and how?
       --Is the article aimed at a specific readership?
       --Will they understand it as it is presented?
       --Does it have a catchy, informative headline?
       --Is the author identified and credited in a byline?
       --Does it have a strong opening paragraph?
       --Does it give as many specific details as the situation permits?
       --Does it include necessary background information?
       --What response is it likely to evoke in the readers?
       --Does it have a mainly positive message?
       --Does it make a point without being "preachy" or condescending?
       --Does it include dialogue where possible and appropriate?
       --Does it quote others speaking well of your work or the Family?
       --Is it concise, yet as complete as possible?
       --Is it free of hype and Family lingo, and are superlatives and exclamation points kept to a minimum?
       --Have you re-read it to make sure it is clear and complete?
       --Have others critiqued and proofread the article?
       --Has it been checked from the standpoint of security?
       --Have you included a note stating whether or not it is intended for possible publication?

Sending in your article:
       --Send computer file, if possible, with your TRF. When naming your file, give it a "pub" extension (e.g., "*.pub").
       --Send outstanding timely reports immediately, via modem or e-mail if possible.
       --Include photos with captions, date, photographers name, Home number and title of corresponding news article on the back of each. Note whether the picture is intended for publication or not.

Copyright 1996 The Family