It took award-winning journalist, writer, and book collaborator Jeannine Amber twenty years to figure out too many details in writing can hurt a project. Journalism writing is no exception. The former Essence senior editor spontaneously sets the scene to provide an example: She’s interviewing someone in their home and upon entering, she sees there are a million things going on. There are books. The color of the sofa stands out. And children’s toys are on the floor. There is also a dog (probably running about).
“So in the part of the article where I describe Mrs. So and So sat in her living room, which of those details am I going to include?” Amber raises to So Booking Cool. “I don’t need to tell you everything that’s going on in the room. I need to tell you that she’s sitting on the sofa and there are children’s toys on the floor because I’m about to tell you something about how, you know, she’s working two jobs and things are sort of haphazard because she’s so busy.”
She continues, “You have to pick your details wisely. The inverse of that is if you put in everything it is filler. It slows down the momentum of the story and people don’t understand why they’re reading it.”
When I mention that some people insert filler in their writing regardless the assignment because they want to fulfill a word count requirement, Amber says it’s not about giving more words, it’s about giving more information.
Watch the interview to learn more about Amber’s thoughts and insight on writing including the early lessons she’s learned in her journalism education and work that she would caution rising journalists about; whether her mother’s career as an English teacher and her late father being a legend in Toronto broadcasting influenced her own path and how; when she realized the kinds of stories she wanted to tell; how it feels to have recognition and when she first noticed her writing was making an impact; the time she interviewed Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton; and more! For more information, visit Amber’s official website.