Telling True Stories : A Nonfiction Writers' Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2007-01-30
  • Publisher: Plume

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Inspiring stories and practical advice from America’s most respected journalistsThe country’s most prominent journalists and nonfiction authors gather each year at Harvard’s Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism. Telling True Storiespresents their best advice—covering everything from finding a good topic, to structuring narrative stories, to writing and selling your first book. More than fifty well-known writers offer their most powerful tips, including: • Tom Wolfeon the emotional core of the story • Gay Taleseon writing about private lives • Malcolm Gladwellon the limits of profiles • Nora Ephronon narrative writing and screenwriters • Alma Guillermoprietoon telling the story and telling the truth • Dozens of Pulitzer Prize–winning journalists from the Atlantic Monthly, New Yorker, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Postand more . . .The essays contain important counsel for new and career journalists, as well as for freelance writers, radio producers, and memoirists. Packed with refreshingly candid and insightful recommendations, Telling True Storieswill show anyone fascinated by the art of writing nonfiction how to bring people, scenes, and ideas to life on the page.

Author Biography

Mark Kramer is director and writer-in-residence of the Nieman Program on Narrative Journalism at Harvard University.
Wendy Call is a freelance writer and editor based in Seattle. She has been a Fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs in southern Mexico and a Scholar in Nonfiction at the Bread Loaf Writers-' Conference.

Table of Contents

Stories matterp. 3
Delving into private livesp. 6
The narrative ideap. 10
Difficult journalism that's slap-up funp. 14
Finding good topics : a writer's questionsp. 20
Finding good topics : an editor's questionsp. 22
Reporting for narrative : ten overlapping rulesp. 24
To tape or not to tape?p. 28
Interviewing : accelerated intimacyp. 30
The psychological interviewp. 34
Participatory reporting : sending myself to prisonp. 35
Being therep. 39
Not always being therep. 45
Reporting across culturesp. 46
Reporting on your ownp. 48
Field notes to full draftp. 51
Doing enough reporting?p. 54
From story idea to published storyp. 55
(Narrative) J school for people who never wentp. 59
Profilesp. 66
The ladder of abstractionp. 70
Every profile is an epic storyp. 71
The limits of profilesp. 73
Travel writing : inner and outer journeysp. 74
The personal essay and the first-person characterp. 78
First personal singular : sometimes, it is about youp. 81
Columns : intimate public conversationsp. 83
Writing about historyp. 86
Adventures in history Melissap. 88
Narrative investigative writingp. 89
Public radio : community storytellingp. 92
What narrative writers can learn from screenwritersp. 98
To begin the beginningp. 100
Narrative distancep. 103
Hearing our subjects' voices : quotes and dialoguep. 104
Hearing our subjects' voices : keeping it real and truep. 107
A story structurep. 109
Summary versus dramatic narrativep. 111
Weaving story and ideap. 112
Endingsp. 116
Characterp. 126
Details matterp. 128
Developing characterp. 129
Reconstructing scenesp. 132
A reconstructed scenep. 135
Setting the scenep. 136
Handling timep. 139
Sequencing : text as linep. 140
Writing complicated storiesp. 145
How I get to the pointp. 148
The emotional core of the storyp. 149
Telling the story, telling the truthp. 154
On voicep. 158
The line between fact and fictionp. 164
Toward an ethical code for narrative journalistsp. 170
Playing fair with subjectsp. 172
Securing consentp. 176
Truth and consequencesp. 177
Dealing with danger : protecting your subject and your storyp. 178
A dilemma of immersion journalismp. 182
Ethics in personal writingp. 184
Taking liberties : the ethics of the truthp. 187
The ethics of attributionp. 189
What about endnotes?p. 192
On stylep. 198
A writer and editor talk shopp. 202
Revising - over and over againp. 205
Transforming one hundred notebooks into thirty-five thousand wordsp. 208
How to come lip shortp. 212
Narrative in four boxesp. 216
Serial narrativesp. 218
Care and feeding of editors and writersp. 221
Beginning in narrativep. 228
A brief history of narrative in newspaperp. 230
Nurturing narrative in the newsroomp. 233
A storyteller's Lexiconp. 235
Narrative as a daily habitp. 239
Building a narrative teamp. 243
Two visions, one series : a writer and an editor talk about what they dop. 246
Team storytellingp. 251
Photographer as narrative storytellerp. 254
Subversive storytellers : starting a narrative groupp. 256
Making it as a freelancerp. 264
Not stopping : time management for writersp. 268
Lessons from the jury boxp. 271
Working with an agent Melissap. 272
What makes a good book?p. 274
From book idea to book contractp. 276
Your book and the marketplacep. 278
Crossing over : from advocacy to narrativep. 281
A passion for writingp. 284
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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