Posts Tagged ‘Structure’

Naming the dog: The art of narrative structure

  A few years ago, I adopted a puppy. I’d picked the runt of the litter and in the weeks that I waited for him to wean, I made a list of a dozen or so potential names. In the end, I used none of them. I needed to spend time with the dog before […]

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Ask TON: Using outlines and storyboards

Welcome back for another installment of Ask TON. This week: Should you use an outline or a storyboard when planning to write a longer story? (Click here to read previous installments.) 

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The first critic is you: Editing your own work

Self-editing is a selfless endeavor. You cut, replace, rearrange and endlessly re-read — all for the reader’s benefit. “Journalism is all about having a sense of empathy with your audience,” says Dan Fagin, director of the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Toms River: A Story […]

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How to ace a 300-word story: An interview with Roy Peter Clark

It happens again and again: The assignment calls for 300 words. I write the perfect story — in 800 words. Then I’m fighting to cut the damned thing down to size. My search for a better way led me to writing coach and Poynter Institute scholar Roy Peter Clark’s newest book, How to Write Short: […]

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Butterfly On A Bullet

It was the best of assignments and the worst. My editors John Carroll and Ashley Dunn at The Los Angeles Times asked me to take readers behind the scenes of the largest and most public accident investigation in U.S. history — and one of the most heavily covered national news events of the 21st century  […]

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Richard Todd on Good Prose

In 1973, Richard Todd was a young editor at The Atlantic Monthly. His boss, Atlantic editor-in-chief Bob Manning, had just handed him a manuscript with a note scrawled across the top, “Let’s face it, this fellow can’t write.” The story was about a mass murder in California and its author was a student at the […]

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David Quammen on turning research into story, part II

Last week, we published the transcript of a discussion between David Dobbs and David Quammen that we sponsored at last year’s National Association of Science Writers meeting. Today, we present Part II of the conversation between the two Davids. Most of this interview took place by phone in early December. Dobbs: Where do you write? […]

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David Quammen on turning research into story, part I

David Quammen has been one of the world’s leading science writers for over a quarter century, with eight acclaimed nonfiction books, including the iconic The Song of the Dodo, as well as four novels. His new book, Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, gave us the excuse to interview him for TON — […]

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Cynthia Graber profiles a modern-day Dr. Frankenstein

While Cynthia Graber isn’t new to reporting on regenerative medicine, her interview with Tufts University biologist Michael Levin led to some unexpected stories. In research that recalls the toils of Dr. Frankenstein, Levin uses electricity to initiate regeneration of body parts in living organisms. In light of recent advances in DNA research, the field of […]

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Brian Vastag profiles a dinosaur tracker

When Washington Post science writer Brian Vastag found Ray Stanford, an amateur dinosaur footprint tracker in the D.C. suburbs who had found an unusual baby dinosaur footprint, he thought he had stumbled upon a “nice little day story.” Soon, though, he realized that Stanford’s newest find was only the most recent chapter in a far […]

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Jennifer Kahn asks: Can a child psychopath be saved?

Of all mental disorders, none elicits more revulsion or less sympathy than psychopathy, a disorder characterized by extreme impulsivity, narcissism, callousness and lack of empathy. Psychopathy is widely considered incurable, but some researchers have theorized that it might be possible to treat “fledgling psychopaths” if they can be identified early enough. When journalist Jennifer Kahn […]

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Sharpening ideas: From topic to story

George Johnson wanted to write about new developments in cancer research for the New York Times. But he needed to find a story that would let him to do it. So last year Johnson, a regular contributor to the Times’ science section who’s writing a book about cancer, cut a deal with his editor. He’d […]

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