Reader Lionel B. Dyck has provided us with a great, weird headline to improve. It’s from “The Jerusalem Post.” Yes, newspapers are a special breed of writing, and headlines must be concise. But this one cuts so many words that it hurts my logical head. How would you clarify it?
Do you see where the headline goes wrong?
The wording of the headline suggests that the police shot a dead man. It also vaguely hints that they shot him after stabbing him was not successful. Of course, you would never consider that meaning, but the words do lead you to that possibility.
The first sentence of the article makes the meaning clear.
How would you revise the headline? Please post your version. I will post mine after you get a chance to think about it. My revision is 10 words, just like the original headline. However, I think they make the meaning clear.
This odd headline points me toward two lessons:
- Do not try to be so concise that you lose your reader.
- Let your writing sit, whenever possible, before sending it out. Weird word combinations like “shoot dead man” stand out when you see them with a fresh eye.
Have fun rewriting!
Thank you, Lionel, for the good (bad) example.