We all tell stories, in some shape or form. They could start off with something like “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” (Anna Karenina). For the rest of us –even as we question the established technique— there are several ways to go after and craft a good story.
Tom Hallman, in last month’s Quill the magazine of the Society for Professional Journalists wrote a great piece on what separates a good story from a great one.
- Distance – a story is more than a bunch of quotes, he says.
- Stories are about things – People, not ‘things’ give people a chance to identify with the story
- Direction – take the reader someplace
- Pacing – Vary lengths of paragraphs
- Theme – the best stories have an universal theme
- Voice – this speaks for itself. You need to find your voice
- Strong middle and powerful endings – pay attention to the entire story, not just the beginning
Hallman is a Pulitzer prize winner and features writer for the Oregonian.