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Andrea McDaniels from the Baltimore Sun came to speak to my feature writing class today.

She came to talk about her latest project Collateral Damage and some of her best writing tips.

Collateral Damage is a three-part series for the Baltimore Sun on violence in Upton/ Druid Hill and how it affects people.

The first part was about the young children who often suffer from PTSD, the second was on families struggling to help victims of the violence and the last part was about family members dealing with grief over a loss of a loved one to violence in the neighborhood.

The project came out of one article she was writing that she felt like had too much information and that the article “was everywhere”. Her media editor helped straighten the story but together, they also came up with a way to expand it.

She found most of her sources through the social workers in that neighborhood’s schools because Upton/ Druid Hill is not an area a reporter can really walk around all day and ask questions.

It took McDaniels a full year to report and write the three-part project.

Some of her best advice was to always make variation in sentence length and to put the most interesting idea last in a sentence or paragraph.

“Writing never gets easier,” McDaniels repeated throughout her visit. But she also said that writing is a craft and can always be improved. Editors and random writing tips will always help a journalist for every story.

It was nice to finally have a female reporter come to class to talk but every visitor has given great advice that I will take with me through my last year at Towson and on to my first job.