There is a formula to writing for publications, and each one is unique. If you want to write for D Magazine
, sound breezy and scolding at the same time. ("North Dallas' courage is apparent in the winning smiles of Highland Village shoppers whose Saturday-afternoon purchases prove wrong the liberal naysayers on the City Council.") If you want to write for the Dallas Observer
, learn the art of the dramatic one-sentence ender. ("James thought the good times would go on forever, his power and wealth and fame accruing year after year, until the heavens opened and he ascended to his rightful place as king of all he surveyed. [New paragraph.] He could not have been more wrong.") And if you want to write for The Dallas Morning News
, learn how to combine a random lead anecdote with a forced transition in fewer than 25 words. This is most apparent in sports stories ("For luck, Dirk Nowitzki always wears three pairs of socks during games. Against the Chicago Bulls, three was indeed his lucky number."), but you can find it in any section ("Mayor Ron Kirk says he likes to swim. But yesterday, he recoiled after sticking his toe in political hot water."). Finding good writers, then, means finding the ones who buck the trend, who avoid clichés like the plague, who sound not like their publication but like themselves. Beatriz Terrazas, the photographer-turned-feature writer at the News
, is perhaps the best writer the paper has ever employed. She writes in pictures, creating stark images that linger and affect. For proof, you need look no further than her story "The Voice of Memory," from June 11, 2000. It's still one of the most moving essays we've ever read in that newspaper. For a more recent example, last month's story on Esther and Leoncio Puentes and how they helped redefine their northwest Dallas neighborhood was wonderful, the sort of simple, touching tale the paper too often fails to bring to life. No such problem for Terrazas, though.