COPY POINT – Blaze vs. Fire

Eds. Note: Broadcast writing is meant to be read aloud. So, this COPY POINT does not apply to web or newspaper writing.

One of the beautiful tools that writers of novels and other written forms of media employ is the use of “Elegant variation”.

Elegant variation is carefully crafted prose that avoids repetition of words that catch a reader’s attention. Unfortunately, grabbing the viewer’s attention is one of the goals of broadcast writing.  Many well meaning journos unnecessarily use a variety of synonyms for the word FIRE.  The result is turns out something like this:

The fireball flew across the room. Impervia dodged the blaze, but Myoko didn’t; flames washed across her face and her hair began to burn. She tried to put out the fire with her hands, but her coat-sleeves ignited with a burst of smoke and light…

Nothing wrong with any of those words, but they are so unnecessary, especially for folks who never talk like that in the newsroom.  

So, unless you are talking about blaze orange or blazing a trail, if it’s a FIRE you are talking about. Call it a FIRE.   Nothing wrong with a banner that reads BAD BLAZE, but let’s not force our anchors into synonym hell with blaze, conflagration, inferno, , incandescence, inferno, pyre, sea of flames, searing, sparks, tinder, or, up in smoke.

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