Scottish Article Speaker – David Steel, 15th October 2014

David Steele 15 10 14            Who better to speak to the Club and give sound advice on writing an article (Scottish or otherwise) but David Steel? An engaging and interesting speaker, David has over 30 years’ writing experience as a journalist, communications officer and public relations officer.

His career began with the Ayrshire Post in the 1970s , back in the days when his typed ‘copy’ would be wooshed (I believe, that’s the technical term David used) across Ayr High Street in a vacuum tube to be typeset at the printers. How technology has moved on! After cutting his teeth on his local paper, he progressed to the Evening Times then onto the Glasgow Herald.

David covered many of Scotland’s most infamous and important stories over the decades – the World’s End murders, the Lockerbie Disaster, the Dunblane School shootings and the disappearance of the Solway Harvester. More recently as Public Relations Officer for Strathclyde Police he was involved with press releases on the Peter Tobin Inquiry. But it’s David’s association with and articles on the amazing and uplifting story of The Boy David, the abandoned Peruvian child with severe facial disfigurement, who was rescued and transformed by pioneering, Glaswegian plastic surgeon Dr. Ian Jackson, of which he is most proud.

So what was David’s advice for any would-be journalists or magazine article writers?

Well there was plenty. I scribbled furiously in my notebook trying to jot them all down.

* Think about the beginning of your article – the first line should grab your readers’ attention and make them want to read further. But don’t give away too much in the intro or readers may not bother reading on.

*Tell the story simply, using words and phrases you would normally use. Don’t be tempted to use words you don’t know or understand and leave your dictionary and thesaurus closed.

* Good research is essential. Check your facts and check them again to ensure they are correct.

* Good grammar, punctuation and spelling are vital.

* Find and develop your article’s USP – Unique Selling Point.

* Ask yourself what your article could bring to a magazine/newspaper that the publication’s own staff could not provide.

* Good writing and story-telling can result in powerful article.

One tip David gave us literally appealed to me – although, as he confessed, it’s not his own advice but that of Ernest Hemmingway – Write drunk. Edit sober.

So…hic…with that in mind I’ll finish my glass of wine and ssshort out my mishtakes in the morning.

Many thanks to David Steel for his illuminating and informative talk and his helpful answers to our questions. I’m sure he inspired his audience and in his role as our Scottish Article competition judge he’s bound to receive plenty of cracking Scottish articles to ponder over.

And finally as David said – there’s a plethora of magazines and online publications out there – so get writing and submitting.

Linda Brown

****Stop Press**** – On researching this article I’ve discovered there’s controversy online over who actually said Write drunk. Edit sober. Ernest Hemmingway or Peter De Vries??   The debate continues…….




  1. RCS Anderson

    Great blog, Linda. You’ve really captured the essence of David’s interesting and amusing talk. And all of his useful tips. Thank you.

  2. Carolyn O'Hara

    Most enjoyable piece, Linda, thank you.

  3. James Rose

    Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend that meeting and Linda’s blog has made up for my absence as much as possible, So, thank you,
    I know what he means about keeping the dictionary closed but keep it to hand for those words which you believe you know but discover have a slightly different meaning. Always worth a check.

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