Advice from the Masters: Ray Stannard Baker

Feb 16, 2016 | Everything Else

Ray Stannard Baker was one of the great muckraking journalists of the early Twentieth Century. After covering the Pullman strike for the Chicago News-Record, he joined McClure’s magazine.

When Sam McClure recruited him to write a series of investigative articles on labor strife, Baker supposedly said:

“Why bother with fictional characters and plots when the world was full of more marvelous stories that were true: and characters so powerful, so fresh, so new that they stepped into the narratives under their own power.”

Sounds good, eh? But Baker never stayed true to that sentiment. He wrote investigative articles. He wrote what may be the first book on American race relations. He served Woodrow Wilson as press secretary then won a Pulitzer Prize for his eight volumes of Woodrow Wilson’s Life and Letters.

Not bad, but he never gave up fiction. He wrote stories and books under the pen name of David Grayson.

So what’s the lesson? Words are tools that you can use for a variety of projects. Learn to use them well.

Want more? Check out the complete list of Advice from the Masters posts

If you want even more writing advice from writers, check out Jon Winokur’s blog, “AdvicetoWriters.”

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