Journalism for Authors

Sometimes it seems journalists don’t get any respect from novelists.

Authors on occasion include newspaper stories in their books, either to advance the plot or because the protagonist is doing research.

What's annoying—at least to an experienced journalist like me—is how poorly some of these stories within the story are written. I sometimes find myself muttering, "Any decent J school graduate could write a much better story than that."

I had a rather more personal interest when I found the faux journalism in Penny Warner's charming new book, How to Host a Killer Party. That's because the reporter in her book happens to share my name. So now I was muttering, "I could write a much better story than that."

I don't mean to pick on Warner. I have found this flaw in any number of novels. But I wonder why an author, who might do meticulous research into soufflés or metallurgy or literacy in the 16th century so that their characters sound authoritative, tosses off a newspaper story with little regard for verisimilitude.

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