We’re excited to announce a new feature that we’ll be rolling out next week on Nieman Storyboard. “Why’s This So Good?” will explore what makes classic narrative nonfiction stories worth reading.

Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, recently popped out with a suggestion on Twitter that the awesome catalogue of narrative that is Longreads should have a companion site that looks at why the writing is great. Max Potter of 5280 Magazine pointed out that Nieman Storyboard was already on the case, solving just such mysteries.

But the temptation to create a literary juggernaut was irresistible. And so Alexis and I connected with Mark Armstrong of Longreads to see what we might be able to gin up.

Our Editors’ Roundtable already showcases a cast of stellar editors looking at contemporary work on a regular basis. But we thought it would be intriguing to host a series of one-off posts by some of our favorite writers looking at classic narrative nonfiction, breaking down the magic of specific stories. Think of it as shop talk. Or a great bar conversation – minus the noise, the alcohol, and the guy spilling his Jägermeister down your back.

The first installment of “Why’s This So Good?” will launch Monday with Alexis posting about a Truman Capote interview from half a century ago. Future contributors will include people who have written for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Esquire, Wired, Mother Jones, Harper’s, and many other publications. You can join the discussion, dispute the opinions, and otherwise weigh in on the Longreads Facebook page (“Like” them and us if you haven’t yet!) and Twitter, where you can find all the responsible parties at @alexismadrigal, @andreapitzer, @longreads and @niemanstory.

And if you have an idea for a contribution of your own, you can query us at andrea_pitzer@niemanstoryboard.org.

We hope you’ll stay tuned and join in the fun.

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