People Don’t Speak in Full Sentences

When you are talking to others you don’t always pick up if they are talking in complete sentences.

I took it for granted when I first started.

I just expected people to talk in full sentences every time we talked. It doesn’t matter if it’s in person, or not.

I only know of a few sources that talk in full sentences.

Now, this post isn’t to make fun of anyone. I’m looking to shine light on the fact that as a reporter you have to be aware of that. It can be a problem for you, if you don’t think about it.

It can mean the difference between quotes in your story and having to paraphrase throughout, instead.

There is nothing wrong with it, at all. It’s just something you have to realize. Each source talks differently than the next.

As you work with more and more sources, you’ll know how each talks and you’ll be able to expect it. It doesn’t matter who the source is, or what they do. Some just talk in short bursts, while others talk in never-ending sentences that make you scratch your head. It’s all in a days work and, as you work with the same sources for an extended period, you start to understand how they talk.

I bring this up because Louisa and I talked about it the other day. It wasn’t a long conversation, but one that stuck with me.

It takes a lot of time to “clean up” what a source says. By clean up, I mean reorganizing what they say into paraphrased quotes. It’s a lot more work to do that then to just use the quotes they said.

In addition to the transitions, you have to make everything flow. It almost doubles the work you have to do and, on deadline, that can add up.

It’s not frustrating for me anymore. When I first started, however, I wasn’t ready for it and I had to improvise.

The trick is to work at it. You’ll get the hang of it the more you do it.

Practice makes perfect, right?

Jonathan

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