"When writers come to me for coaching, I always spend the first couple of sessions learning how they operate. I quiz them about how the organize their material, find structures, and write drafts. One of the most revealing exercises is a look in their reporting notebooks. If they’re newsies, the chances are that I’ll find page after page of direct quotations.
“The quote-filled notebook promises dull writing for conventional news stories, and it’s death for narrative. How can you tell a real story if you lack the raw material you need to build character, create scenes, describe action, or develop themes? A narrative writer’s notebook—or even the notebook for a good features writer—should be filled with visual details, anecdotes, action sequences, smells, and the like. The best even include reporting on the reporter, noting any questions, emotions, or other internal reactions that occurred during observation. All those can help guide the writing.” ~ from Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction, by the great former Oregonian writing coach/editor Jack Hart.
Catch Tom Huang live-tweeting Hart’s recent narrative talk here!
University of Chicago Press
266 pages of awesomeness
$25 and worth it