Reporting for Narrative: Ten Tips NOT from Mark Kramer..Kinda



Author Mark Kramer gave inspiring reporting for narrative tips in the book, Telling True Stories, however, I think I could give better tips. Shall we?

When you write, and especially when you write narrative, you create a sequential intellectual and emotion experience for the reader.”

sara pizza

Show me the mon – pizza!


Is one of the key factors in narrative writing. Why tell someone you are going to indulge in a nice delicious pizza when you can show them instead?

Eh – not like to the right of you but more so like, “Steam rising up off the melted cheese made my mouth water. The first bite, my teeth sinking into the cheese through the tomato sauce and into the moist crust, made me chew and swallow rapidly. Even the cheese and tomato sauce, sticking to my fingertips, begged to be licked.”

Uhm – awkward.

Anyways – here are TEN reporting for narrative tips by yours truly (and Mark Kramer):

1. Before selecting a topic, think carefully about what will intrigue readers.

I would take a shot that probably writing a story on farming would not be your best bet. Unless it is about goats then yes proceed.

2. After selecting a good topic, secure good access.

A.K.A don’t have shitty sources and or make them up. You are not Stephen Glass.

3.  Find the unfolding action then provide the narrative line.

The three ninjas, dressed in neon green leotards,  leaped out of the polka dot Volkswagen bug and  immediately whipped out their swords to attack the wasps swarming the town.
^That example was weak Wheeler. Let’s move on.

4.  Find hints of character in the action.

Like the goats – they scream like humans. How does that not boggle your mind!?

5. Find the right scene details through careful sensory reporting.

If someone smells – report it. Basically sums up that rule.

6. Pinpoint your subjects’ emotional experience, not your own.

If Jerry just broke your heart after three beautiful months together and ruined your wedding plans you probably should not let that get in the way of interviewing something much more important like NOT your three month relationship.

7. Rigorously research your story’s context.

Research your story so you don’t look like an ass when it goes public and people question why you made everything up. Spoiler alert – clown ninjas do not exist — I think…don’t quote me.

8.  Late in the drafting process, crystallize the point of your story.

Don’t wait seven hours before your story is due. I think.

9. Very late in the writing process, refine the difference between your views and your subject’s views.

Write fairly – despite if you manage to grow feelings to your subject.

10. Cherish the structural ideas and metaphors that come to you while you are reporting.

Pay attention to quotes and how you might play with them in your story. Also, every little thing you write down will make a difference whether or not your story will suck or shine.

Don’t suck.





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