News from ILEETA 2011: 10 tips for writing for publication

New police writers encouraged by veteran author Guy Rossi at ILEETA

Guy Rossi made a plea to his audience to share their life saving knowledge with others by writing for publication. He cited personal satisfaction, professional credibility, and the possibility of earning money a few of the reasons that police trainers write.

Here are ten tips for writing according to Rossi:

1.) It’s Harder to Write Short — Trimming your article of big words and non-essential verbiage is a major challenge to novice and experienced writers. Rossi said it’s helpful to consider that most readers are “toilet readers” and want to finish an article by the time they’ve finished their bathroom break.

2.) Use Impartial Reviewers — Rossi cautioned against using friends and lovers to critique your drafts and re-writes. Finding somebody who doesn’t know your subject will help determine how clear your writing is.

3.) Lose Your Fear — Nobody writes as well as they want to. You have to write the bad stuff before the good stuff rises out of the ashes.

4.) Know Your Audience — Different media have different demands on writers in form and content. Rossi pointed out the difference between writing for the web and writing for a printed magazine. Editors won’t take time to correct you — they’ll just reject your work if it doesn’t conform to their guidelines for publication.

5.) What Gets Published is Forever — Writers will be held accountable for their published works so accuracy, political sensibilities, and legal liability are all things to consider before submitting a work.

6.) Use a “Cluster” Outline — Writing is most effective with some planning of both the process and the content. The academic outline we learned in school is not helpful, but flow charts and mind maps can help the creative process.

7.) The Hook — A draw for the reader should be established in the first sentences.

8.) Do Your Research — Assumptions and errors can destroy a writer’s credibility.

9.) Don’t Edit When You’re Being Creative — Creativity and analysis use different parts of the brain.

10.) Protect Your Work — Make sure to establish the appropriate copyright ownership. It may be safest to make no reference to your department and don’t use department resources to create the work to avoid your employer having a say in your writing.

About the author

Joel Shults operates Street Smart Training and is the founder of the National Center for Police Advocacy.. He is retired as Chief of Police in Colorado. Over his 30 year career in uniformed law enforcement and in criminal justice education Joel has served in a variety of roles: academy instructor, police chaplain, deputy coroner, investigator, community relations officer, college professor, and police chief, among others. Shults earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri, with a graduate degree in Public Services Administration and bachelors in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Central Missouri. In addition to service with the US Army military police and CID, Shults has done observational studies with over fifty police agencies across the country. He has served on a number of advisory and advocacy boards including the Colorado POST curriculum committee as a subject matter expert.

Follow Joel on Twitter @ChiefShults.

Contact Joel Shults

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