Tiny Narratives – Upgrade Your Writing

8 steps to upgrade your everyday news stories with ‘tiny narratives’ by Katia Savchuk.

From the post:

BEFORE BETH SCHWARTZAPFEL became a staff writer for The Marshall Project three years ago, she spent a decade as a freelance magazine writer. She got used to spinning 4,000-word narratives for places like Mother Jones and the Boston Review. When she arrived at the nonprofit newsroom, which covers criminal justice, Schwartzapfel found herself tackling an entirely different animal: breaking news and hard-hitting features that put the facts center stage.

Schwartzapfel considered how she could bring her storytelling chops to these new formats. Her answer was what she calls “tiny narratives”: compact anecdotes, sometimes only a few lines long, scattered throughout a fact-driven article. “I think of them as raisins in oatmeal, or the signs people hold on the sidelines of a marathon. They’re little surprises or jolts of pleasure to remind people of what they’re reading and why it matters,” she explained in a session at the Power of Narrative Conference at Boston University in late March.

Those nuggets of humanity can help keep readers on the page at a time when news organizations are scrambling for the public’s attention. But it isn’t easy to do well. Injecting narrative elements into a news or investigative story can bring unnecessary clutter or overwhelm the essential facts.

Here are tips from Schwartzapfel and other speakers at the conference about how to get “tiny narratives” right.
… (emphasis in original)

A series of great tips, but if you want more examples of Schwartzapfel’s writing, try Beth Schwartzapfel, Staff Writer.

I count fifty-five (55) stories.

More than enough for a Hunter Thompson exercise of re-typing great stories:

Posted by Brian John Spencer in Hunter S. Thompson – Typing out the work of the best writers.

Think of Thompson’s approach as developing “muscle and verbal cadence” memory.

I’m much more likely to try that with Schwartzapfel’s stories than with XQuery, but it would be an interesting exercise in both cases.

😉

Comments are closed.