Great writing

Last week I noted that one of my favorite writers out there is Mike Tanier, who does the Sunday NFL matchups for the New York Times. I also have mentioned recently that I’m teaching journalism at Manhattanville College.

Two worlds collide.

One of the things I’ve been trying to preach is making words count. I once heard Gary Smith say that every word he uses is deliberate, and at the time I found the idea sort of baffling. Now I don’t. Every word does count, from the long ones to the short ones. I used the example of a fat person vs. a skinny one with my students. You want a story to be lean and muscular, not overflowing with excess blubber (For the record, I don’t 100% apply this to my blog. Here, I like to stretch. Sometimes lazily). So you look for words to cut, ways to say things with efficient simplicity.

Which leads me back to Tanier. First, his capsules are brilliant. Brilliant.

They also happen to be extremely efficient. Here’s the best example from today:

Falcons (3-1) at Browns (1-3)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
Line: Falcons by 6
Jake Delhomme is expected to return for Cleveland. Thank goodness. Seneca Wallace’s quiet competence was getting dull. The Browns lost three games by a combined 12 points before winning last week. Atlanta won two games by 5 points after losing its season opener and squashing a wounded cricket (beating the Cardinals) in Week 2. This game will probably come down to a field goal. After a Delhomme interception. Pick: Falcons

Specifically, I love the third sentence. LOVE it. It says everything the writer wants to get across in a whopping seven words. Just perfect.