TIPS FROM A MASTER
Former New York Times Chief Critic Bernard Holland, author of
SOMETHING I HEARD, is much celebrated for his ability to capture a composer or performer in, what the San Francisco Chronicle called, “a few deftly chosen words.”
In an almost 30-year career at the New York Times, Holland had to make 400-word reviews sing nightly.
Few can do it.
(Another great practitioner was the late architecture critic at The New Yorker, Brendan Gill.)
In age of twitter and wordpress, you best be able to write short too.
Here are a few tips from a Master, or Maestro, whichever:
1. Never state the obvious. For example, don’t start your piece with “I went to an important concert last night” We know it’s important or why would you be there?
2. Write it, Read it. Cut it. Mercilessly (Awk! An adverb.) Take out every extra word that does not forward the action or thought.
3. Use words, of course, but use the right word. Don’t use an obscure or big word to impress. Don’t use long phrases and write around the point. Choose the word that gets right on top of what you want to say – provocative or not – and press the button.