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Contributor Archives: Laurie Hertzel

“Why’s this so good?” No. 32: Darcy Frey on the brink

It’s been 16 years since I first read Darcy Frey’s piece about the overwhelming, stressful job of being an air traffic controller – 16 years since I first swore never to fly into Newark. Frey’s powerful narrative scarred me for life. “Something’s Got To Give” ran in The New York Times Magazine in 1996, 15 years [...]

National Book Award winner T.J. Stiles on telling good stories and asking big questions

T.J. Stiles, author of Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War, won a National Book Award in November for his second biography, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt. In an hour-long interview with Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minn.) books editor Laurie Hertzel, he talked about the difference between research and investigation, building [...]

Six Tips for Crafting Scenes

This is an edited version of a talk Laurie Hertzel gave at the 2005 Nieman Seminar for Narrative Editors. Her remarks were part of a joint presentation with Rick Meyer, who spoke about developing characters. Scenes are the backbone of narrative. They’re where the action of your story takes place, where the plot unfolds. Here’s [...]