Yule love these writ­ing tips

The Denver Post - - PERSPECTIVE - By Dick Hilker

Fie on all that fake news. Yes, once again, ‘tis the sea­son for gen­uine news. I re­fer to those fam­ily news­let­ters that of­ten tum­ble out of our Christ­mas/hol­i­day cards.

For­get all of those tweets, Twit­ters, hand-held elec­tronic de­vices, Face­books, Gmails and any­thing at all that ends in dot­com. The an­nual news­let­ters — usu­ally multi-paged and sin­glespaced in pica type — prove that print jour­nal­ism lives stronger than ever.

Mistle­toe-in­spired mis­sives such as the Bar­ring­ton Bu­gle, Tiller­man Tri­bune and the Aug­man An­nual Argus are re­ports di­rect from the grass roots. The info comes di­rect from Edith and Ho­race’s mouths.

“Old­est son Ber­tram is still liv­ing in Cañon City. But he has another pa­role hear­ing in Fe­bru­ary and we are keep­ing our fin­gers crossed.”

If you haven’t pub­lished a news­let­ter be­fore, it’s time to start gear­ing up for 2017. Pre­serv­ing a full year’s worth of de­tails is im­por­tant, start­ing with New Year’s res­o­lu­tions.

In­ex­pe­ri­ence is ab­so­lutely no prob­lem. But if you think you need guid­ance, you can find it on­line from nu­mer­ous pub­lish­ing veter­ans, in­clud­ing Paula in Brook­lyn, who has a web­site called Beauty in Im­per­fec­tion.

“Daugh­ter Bertha is ea­gerly await­ing the in­crease in the min­i­mum wage as she is still work­ing at Burger Barn. With the ad­di­tional money, she hopes to start mak­ing pay­ments on her student loan and pos­si­bly even go­ing back to school. She wants to get a mas­ter’s de­gree in Mayan stud­ies.”

My own ad­vice to would-be fam­ily scribes would be to ig­nore the ex­perts and just plunge ahead. For in­stance, one of them sug­gests that you “re­sist the urge to em­bel­lish.” No. When it comes to fam­ily news­let­ters, read­ers will rel­ish em­bel­lish­ment. The terser the worser.

“Earl says that if the Bron­cos don’t make the play­offs this year we are go­ing to re­paint the house. That might make the fuddy-dud­dies at the HOA happy, but I was kind of get­ting used to the or­ange and blue.”

Here’s a sug­ges­tion for the Pulitzer Prize com­mit­tee: Why not start a spe­cial cat­e­gory for the am­a­teurs who churn out Christ­mas news­let­ters? In fact, you might call it Beauty in Im­per­fec­tion.

“We are plan­ning to take a cruise to the Caribbean this spring. But Ber­tram says he first must find a tramp steamer that needs a cou­ple of more crew mem­bers. (Ha! Ha! Ber­tram is such a kid­der).”

I don’t rec­om­mend it, but some peo­ple ac­tu­ally post their fam­ily news­let­ters on­line. For in­stance, you can find an­nual up­dates from the Cole clan each year since 1983. If you don’t know the Coles, their life his­tory is avail­able in 35 an­nual in­stall­ments.

“Wen­dell, ever the en­tre­pre­neur, is again seek­ing a new ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist. His plan for a chain of home car­pet rental stores didn’t work out as he ex­pected.”

It is manda­tory, of course, for the fam­ily news­let­ter to have a pow­er­ful windup that will blow ev­ery­one’s Christ­mas stock­ing off the man­tel. Some­thing like:

“All of the Pen­ning­ton’s — Sher­wood, Shirleen, Shirley Sue, Sa­man­tha, Steven, Ste­wart, Cato the Cat, Dougie the Dog, Ge­orge the Ger­bil and Park­ery the Para­keet — are wish­ing you the most far-out hol­i­day sea­son imag­in­able and the great­est 2017 ever.”

Well, right back at you, Pen­ning­tons.

And the same to all of you out there, too. Dick Hilker (dhilker529@ aol.com) is a re­tired Den­ver sub­ur­ban news­pa­per ed­i­tor and colum­nist.

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