Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Personal stories from Japan

Couple posts ago I said I'd been looking for a narrative about people in Japan when the earthquake & tsunami hit. Well, I found one. This helps connect the personal stories with those stunning videos we've all seen.

Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.8

Monday, March 28, 2011

Story singles?

The Atavist is, it says, a publishing house that produces "nonfiction stories for digital, mobile reading devices. We like to think of Atavist pieces as a new genre of nonfiction, a digital form that lies in the space between long narrative magazine articles and traditional books and e-books. Publishing them digitally and offering them individually—a bit like music singles in iTunes—allows us to present stories longer and in more depth than typical magazines, less expensive and more dynamic than traditional books.
Most importantly, it gives us new ways to tell some inventive, captivating, cinematic journalism—and new ways for you to experience it."
I'll be interested to see if this takes off. Right now the stories are priced at $2.99 (for Idevices), $1.99 for Kindle and Nook. I'd probably pay that for the right story -- especially with the promise of unique features that come with the story -- although I need them to come out with an Android app (for some reason, both Kindle and Nook for Android crash my tablet). 
Let me know if you try this. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Want to step outside your comfort zone as a writer?

Hopefully your answer was a loud "Yes!" (Even if you were just talking to yourself.)

Here are some thoughts on how to do that from the New York Times' Frank Bruni, via an e-mail exchange with Poynter.org.

A highlight:
 Journalistic training and preparedness are what they are, whether one is trying to be versatile or narrow. Read, read, read. Keep your eyes peeled for what’s interesting in the world. Pay close attention to the people you’re interviewing. Try to write up the results in a careful and lively fashion.

Monday, March 21, 2011

'A human voice'

When you're out there, asking questions, talking to people ... or even just out there not asking questions or talking to people ... make sure to listen. Sometimes sound is the story.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Little scenes, big meaning

 I posted below that I was looking for human stories out of Japan. I found a story this morning that wasn't about a person but a place: Onagawa, one of the many towns that got hammered by the tsunami.

Andrew Higgins of The Washington Post wrote about what he found there. The story includes this evocative graf, and the context of the piece invites you to imagine that this kind of scene is happening over and over and over again:

"To reclaim the world stolen by this gigantic wave, Kimura wrote his name on a wooden stake and stuck it in the ground to mark a pile of rubble as his home. Mumbling to himself, he smacked at the ruins with a cooking knife, hoping to conjure up at least some small physical connection with his previous life. All he’s retrieved is a small jar of mushrooms."

 And Higgins uses a great eye and sense of irony with the following line. He doesn't call attention to it (by saying 'ironically ...' or in any other way). He just writes it and lets it do its job on you:

"The first big building to be hit was Onagawa’s marine exhibition hall on the edge of the harbor. It remains standing. A big sign dangles above its mangled metal door: 'Images of the Sea and the Mysterious World.' "

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Looking for the human stories of the Japanese people

With all the focus in Japan on what's going to happen to the nuke plants -- and the fact that apparently rescue/salvage workers and journalists haven't gotten to some places yet -- it's understandable if there haven't been many truly human stories yet. (If I've missed one or more, please link here.)
So far what I've seen has come from raw video -- powerful indeed, but lacking the structure and context that gives you the richest experience.
When those stories start to come out, this tragedy is going to have another level of impact -- human impact -- that's going to hit us all over again, and hopefully galvanize us in some way, as the best stories do.
It reminds us: Cover the hell out of the news, and never stop searching for the story.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.7