Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Announcing the "Great Sentence Search"

Your job is to make sentences, sentences people will want to read.
That's why we have the "Great Sentence Search, using the New York Times in Feature Writing.
Your job will be to find one sentence, no matter what the subject, that grabs you, that makes you smile, that makes you know the writer had a good time writing it.
I contend that the best writing comes when the writer almost loses self in the story and has fun. Then the best sentences come. You as a reader can tell when a writer really had fun crafting a sentence. He/she would finish the sentence and, reach up from the keyboard, clinch a victory fist and almost shout, "Yes!".
I find such sentences throughout the paper, business section, arts, news, columns, editorials. I make them find them and we talk about whey they're great sentences.
A recent story on the front page caught my eye: "An Oklahoma farming Town is Tested by a Cruel Drought."
It's by Katharine Q. Seelye, about Boise City, the small county seat of Cimarron county, 367 miles from here (closer to Santa Fe and Denver), at the tip of the Panhandle, bordering Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.
She shows the impact of the drought on the western third of our state, shriveling after 222 days without rain.  Sh visits with towns people and ranchers, survivors of The Dust Bowel 70 years ago, facing the same kind of drought.
Here's the great sentence, describing the drought's affects at a ranch trying to raise cattle:
"On the Sharp Ranch, 15 miles outside town, the cattle were grazing on dirt."
Oh yes, now that's journalism! That's writing!

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