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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Headlines - a writing skill worth honing

“Some books that I've read on the Kindle, I've been like, 'I want that on my shelf.' Because it says, 'I'm the kind of person who has read this.' The kind of book that says, 'I'm serious and intellectual and historical and race-conscious.' “ —Jennifer Lee

Born on the Ides of March in 1976, Lee holds the distinction of having the numeral 8 for her middle name.  After not being given a middle name at birth, she assigned this one to herself as an adult “because in the Chinese culture, that number signifies prosperity and good luck.”   

Author of the best-selling book The Fortune Cookie Chronicles about "how Chinese food is more all-American than apple pie,” she is a part-time journalist and full-time writer.  She also serves on a variety of boards including at the Center for Public Integrity, the Asian American Writers' Workshop, and the advisory panel for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s "News Challenge.”  And she is co-founder and president of the literary studio Plympton.  

Lee started writing as a journalist on The Harvard Crimson, then did a series of internships at some of the country’s best newspapers before settling in as a writer and editor for The New York Times.   There, she occupied the “front and last lines” of the newspaper world, serving as both a copy editor and a headline writer.

Lee said she has the highest respect for copy editors and headline writers, hates “bland” headlines, and absolutely despises headlines that contain factual errors.  As a onetime headline writer myself, I think beginning writers could learn much from the study this very special “art” form.  It’s truly the art of learning how to boil down facts into a few key words, and an excellent lesson in how to present ideas both powerfully and concisely.   Not a bad skill to have on your writing resume'.

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