Write with Meaning

This year I had gotten into listening to podcasts, though I don’t listen on a consistent basis. One of the shows I like is called Typecast, A Podcast About Writing, presented by Kevin Pang.

The particular podcast (episode 9) I’m mentioning here features Steve Padilla, a LA Times editor and writing coach. Editors of course are very important allies in your writing (though often I’m sure writers feel the relationship is more adversarial) and Mr. Padilla discusses his best tips for sharpening your writing.

One theme that he discusses throughout is the importance of meaning. In fact, Mr. Padilla argues that meaning is the most important element of writing.

“You should be obsessing about what you’re going to say, not how you’re going to say it.”

At one point in the podcast, Mr. Padilla reinforces a lesson that I have kept with me since college. I kick myself for not keeping the story the professor had us examine, so I can’t attribute it and I must paraphrase. It was a short story that opened with the female protagonist taking a bath and experiencing a heart attack. “It was my heart, it stopped.” Something like that. The professor called attention to how the sentence ended with the word “stopped.” Sentences can be structured in many ways, so choose the one that gives the most impact to your readers.

Mr. Padilla argues that simple rewording can transform a sentence from acceptable to extraordinary. “Put the best stuff at the end.”

This ties in with his point about meaning. Meaning will help shape your sentences so that you can determine what to emphasize. And a strong end will propel you into the next sentence. If you are stuck on a sentence, it’s because the previous sentence wasn’t strong enough.

What do you think? What writing podcasts do you recommend?

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