Story Craft

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Building Character: A Checklist

By Story Craft October 15, 2004

Newspaper folks talk a lot about getting people into stories. But all too often that means trotting out direct quotes from a variety of sources. True characterization taps an array of techniques that novelists and literary journalists use … Read more

The Line Between Fact and Fiction

By Story Craft September 7, 2004

Journalists should report the truth. Who would deny it? But such a statement does not get us far enough, for it fails to distinguish nonfiction from other forms of expression. Novelists can reveal great truths about the human condition, and … Read more

Tips for Reporters

By Story Craft March 1, 2002

Note: The following is an edited transcript of a talk by Jim Collins at the 2001 Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism. It was published in the Spring 2002 issue of Nieman Reports. These are things I have learned from my … Read more

Narrative Journalism Comes of Age

By Story Craft October 1, 2001

Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared in the Fall 2000 issue of Nieman Reports, the Nieman Foundation’s quarterly magazine. Narrative writing is returning to newspapers. No one has added up the reallocated column-inches to quantify this change, but there are … Read more

The Comedy of Life

By Story Craft January 1, 1999

The doctor at the Army base had a young corporal as his assistant to keep track of the paperwork. The young man was curious about the doctor’s affairs. He was always asking questions and one morning said, “In … Read more

Building Character in Three Dimensions

By Story Craft January 1, 1998

We’ve heard it to the point of numbness: “Get people into your stories. Tell it in human terms.” Who’s to argue? Yup, human beings are more interesting than paper creeping through a bureaucracy. Yup, real human experiences bring abstractions to … Read more

The Art of the Short Story

By Story Craft January 1, 1997

“It wasn’t by accident,” wrote Hemingway, “that the Gettysburg Address was short.” His 1932 letter to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, went on to lament every writer’s tendency to write too long, drifting beyond the story’s natural focus. He … Read more