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Category Archives: words

Get Pinterested, Storyboard style

Join Nieman Storyboard on Pinterest! We’re expanding our reach via categories on everything from reporting resources to tip sheets. Among our growing number of boards: Narrative news: Fresh quick reads, pinned daily. Up now: How Twitter is shaping the future of storytelling, via Fast Company. Nieman store: Links to details about the great and growing number [...]

Building your canon: Small-scale narrative

Narrative isn’t synonymous with long-form work. A narrative journalist doesn’t need thousands of words or loads of reporting and writing time to tell a memorable story. For you hunter-gatherers of short-form models, consider: W.C. Heinz’s “Death of a Racehorse.” At 963 words, it is one of the most glorious short narratives ever written. A glimpse: [...]

Writing 9/11: Erin Sullivan on survivors, intros, collaboration, inspiration and the importance of working with what you have

We chose Erin Sullivan’s story about a 9/11 survivor as our latest Notable Narrative for the usual reasons − interesting characters; strong, memorable writing − but also because it contained the watermark of a takeaway for surviving trauma. “Watermark” because, as in all good narrative, the writer stays out of the way and lets the story unfold [...]

“I wanted people who were beautifully imperfect” — Isabel Wilkerson on finding characters (Mayborn 2012, vol. 3)

Isabel Wilkerson closed out the Mayborn by describing the 15 years she spent reporting and writing her book, The Warmth of Other Suns. The book chronicles the migration of 6 million black Americans out of the South and into the North and the West from 1915 to the 1970s. Formerly a Pulitzer-winning reporter for the [...]

Jeanne Marie Laskas and Thomas Lake on sportswriting, voice, source love and more (Mayborn 2012, vol. 1)

If you were following the activities out of Grapevine, Texas, last weekend you might’ve seen tweets like this one: And this one: And these: Peter Simek of D magazine recapped this year’s Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference this way: The after-hours antics at the Mayborn are not surprising. Writers are, stereotypically, cocksure, socially starved, self-destructive sorts; booze ignites egos [...]

The best of Storyboard: finding ideas

Great story ideas come by luck but also with the hard work of searching, pre-reporting and thinking. From our archives, here are a few timeless pro tips for idea-mining. Follow the links to longer pieces on story craft.  “Topic selection for a writer is crucial and not crucial at all. The not-crucial part is that [...]

The best of Storyboard: essays on craft

If you’ve ever spent some time nosing around Storyboard you know we archive everything from interactive narratives to original essays on craft, in which masters such as Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Rick Meyer and Walt Harrington offer tips on developing characters, finding stories, writing scenes and more. Some of the 26 pieces feel fresh even a decade later. Here’s [...]

Dahlia Lithwick on long-form, sob stories and the Supreme Court

In this week’s Notable Narrative, we took a semi-quantitative look at how Dahlia Lithwick’s story on a wrongful conviction used one person’s experience as a narrative thread to present a bigger problem. The piece, which followed the exoneration of Bennett Barbour, is right up Lithwick’s alley. As a senior editor at Slate, she writes the [...]

Turning a newspaper project into a book: Christopher Goffard on “You Will See Fire”

We recently noticed that Los Angeles Times reporter Christopher Goffard had expanded a series he had done for the paper into the book “You Will See Fire.” We’ve talked with other narrative journalists who have done a similar thing (David Finkel, Tom French), but in this case, we thought it would be interesting to focus [...]

What we’re reading: kung-fu college, the new immortals, and life in isolation

Reflections on Tiananmen Square 20 years on. A look at the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons today. A father rolling through an infantile old age as part of a new generation of “Immortals.” Here is a handful of narrative and narrative-ish pieces we think are worth your time, written by some of the [...]