Telling True Stories: Part VII:

Source:,  By: Vernon Doucette

By: Vernon Doucette

Emily Heistand: On Style:
  1. Embody ideas in the nature of language: Language is not a conveyor belt trundling a cargo of something else called “the idea” but is itself integral to the idea. Poets— those pure research scientists in the laboratory of language— might say that language is entirely the idea. But even in prose, whatever else our words mean to convey, the nature of the language is itself a mighty signal.
  2. Restore worn-out words: The most current meanings of words only skim the surface; as any time with the Oxford English Dictionary reveals, each word is a house of history.
  3. Take an art class: Much of what artists learn in school is how to see: how to look at the world free of the abstracting preconceptions and the myriad simplifications that we form in order to navigate life.

  5. Use concrete detail: The mind develops in response to sensory experience and because our intelligence is so multifaceted.
  6. Compose the pace: The pace can be in alignment with the subject— moving glacially for the slowed-down time of grief— or can counter the subject.
  7. Experiment with form: Perhaps narrative is at once daring and humble in the way that science is— offering provisional truths, saying in essence: This is the best story we can tell now, based on limited knowledge.
  8. Cultivate your own style: “You don’t just go out and pick a style off a tree one day. “The tree is already inside you. It is growing naturally inside you.” – Dexter Gordon.

Telling True Stories: Part VI:



Roy Peter Clark

The Line Between Fact and Fiction:

The line between fact and fiction in America, between what is real and made up, is blurring. The move in journalism toward infotainment invites just such confusion, as news becomes entertainment and entertainment becomes news. Deals in which editor Tina Brown joins the forces of a news company, Hearst, with a movie studio, Miramax, to create a magazine that would blend reporting and script writing are only the latest headlines signaling the blending of cultures. . . 

Tom Rosenstiel, of the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Basic principles to help journalists navigate the waters between fact and fiction- by Clark:

  • Don’t add, Don’t Deceive.
  • Be unobtrusive.
  • Avoid using anonymous sources.
  • Never put something in your story that hasn’t been checked out.

Though this is a work of nonfiction, I have taken certain storytelling liberties, particularly having to do with the time of events. Where the narrative strays from strict nonfiction, my intention has been to remain faithful to the characters and to the essential drift of events as they really happened.” John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Telling True Stories III

Tomas Alex Tizon:

Is an American author and a Pulitzer Prize winner. He contributed to Newsweek and 60 Minutes. He was also the bureau chief of LA Times.
Writing a profile is documenting someone’s life. As unique as you believe your life is, others think the same way about their lives as well. I found his four points to consider interesting and gave me a new perspective and a new point of view when thinking about profiles.

  1. Your Subject is as COMPLICATED as You Are
  2. Your Subject Carries a BURDEN as Heavy as Yours
  3. Your Subject WANTS Something
  4. Your Subject is Living an EPIC STORY

Malcolm Gladwell:

“One reason I don’t write profiles of people is that I believe we are incapable of truly describing a person’s core… People are more complicated than our profiles of them reflect.” – The Limits of Profiles

“Though we are incapable of getting all of a person’s essence, I do believe we can get at pieces of someone’s personality. That’s enough!”

Melissa Fay Greene:

Has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, Readers Digest, Life, MS, Newsweek, The Wilson Quarterly, Parade, Redbook, Parenting, HuffingtonPost, Salon, TheDailyBeast, and
She has five books:

“No one asked us to be keepers of the flame of history; we’ve taken it on ourselves. When we choose to write nonfiction, our first commitment is not to be readable or to educate or to curry favor with our readers. It is to be as accurate as possible.”

Telling True Stories Part 3:

There are various genres that journalists can follows to write their stories. It is important to follow the ethics and rules of journalism and to find your own style and your own voice.