A4A has a new blogger, Bob McGinty, and he’s a great writing coach. Bob was my editor 30 years ago at The Clearwater Sun, and he taught me a lot about writing. He can do the same for advisors.
Bob was Sunday Editor of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans when he quit journalism to move to Clearwater to open an electronic arcade for kids. The arcade turned into a house of horrors financially and Bob was forced to take a job at The Sun, where I had started working a few months earlier as a reporter.
I had moved to Clearwater, a town of 60,000, about a year after graduating from NYU and Columbia. I was an aggressive New York-schooled reporter and could write concisely fast. Bob, only recently, told me that the editors at The Sun did not know what to do with me because I was such a go-getter. They hired Bob and I became his problem. Bob was the Night City Editor and I was the only reporter working every night.
Bob had worked at a big city newspaper for 20 years and had seen it all. He trained me as a writer and reporter. Bob was born with one arm that doesn’t work all that well, but is a speed typist. He commanded my respect and, man, he was a brilliant editor!
I pulled out a clip buried in the back of my closet showing how Bob transformed my really crappy story about Clearwater's annual Christmas parade in 1982 into a great story with just a few words. I’ll never forget it.
Clearwater’s annual Christmas parade was really big news in Clearwater. I covered it straight, writing in detail about the "bands and balloons" and "81 groups riding bicycles, unicycles, and mopeds," and other contraptions on wheels. I buried in the middle of the story the fact that Santa failed to show up.
Bob appended my laboriously detailed lead about goings-on at the parade with the phrase, “everything but Santa Claus.” All he did was insert four words saying Santa did not show up for the parade in the lead and repeat it twice as an ironic device. In minutes, Bob turned a terrible story into a fun read.
Bob and I stayed in touch for a few years after I left Clearwater but eventually lost touch. About two years ago, I hunted him down on the Web through his son, who’s a reporter at The Florida Times Union.
Bob's been editing the personal columns in advisor newsletters for Advisor Products since then. He’ll be writing about writing here on A4A occasionally. Please ask him questions. He’s a great writing coach and enjoys sharing what he knows.