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“Why’s this so good?” – a collaboration on the magic of long-form stories

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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.

One comment

  1. Andrea Pitzer
    posted June 24, 2011 at 12:06 pm | permalink

    In response to questions coming in: if you want to query us for this project, please let us know

    1) what piece of narrative nonfiction you’d want to look at (please send a link if you can!), and
    2) what angle you’d use to look at it. The more focused the angle, the better.

    Again, it’s andrea_pitzer@niemanstoryboard.org.

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  1. [...] Skip to content AboutNieman FoundationContact UsNarrative DigestNotable NarrativesEssays on CraftSubscribeTwitter « “Why’s This So Good?” – a collaboration on the magic of long-form storie… [...]

  2. [...] Alexis Madrigal of the Atlantic invited me to participate in a Neiman Storyboard series called “Why’s This So Good?” Writers pick out a good piece of long-form journalism and try to figure out what makes it so. [...]

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