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Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

The art and craft of feature writing

20 Oct

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Blundell’s guide for feature writing is divided according to the writing process. He started by finding an idea, sources, followed by shaping the idea, then discussing the story dimensions, then planning and execution, and organizing the piece. He dedicated a special chapter for handling the key story elements; like the lead and the ending.

It is hard to jump through the chapters of the book or to skip chapters. It is built piece onto the other.

I was shocked by his list of what readers like and do not like…. Dogs to be onto the top of the list! People who are actors are much more preferred by the readers than the observers. Nevertheless, at some cases, the observers make a well formed analysis and explanation, thus the reader can understand, link unrelated events and show a zoom-out picture to the reader.

He emphasized on keeping the range of the story “narrow” to be sharp. He summarized the forethought to the reporter as follows: range of the story, central message/theme, the approach and the tone as a storyteller.

The range is the cause and effect map, where the reporter must consider: time, distance, and constituencies.

The theme is the message, it must concentrate on the action. It embeds the lead within it.

The approach can be a general profile approach, microcosm approach or round-up approach. The general profile focuses on the differences, while the microcosm profile focuses on the similarities. The round-up approach is safer by providing many voices.

The tone is the voice. Blundell summarized it in an easy method. He said: “Always consider your own feelings about the story idea before you start reporting and throughout…. If you are amused, skeptical, outraged…Hang on to your emotions… Your reporting and writing will be guided toward values they may not have included before.”

 

My writing hurdles

13 Oct

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Reading Don Fry’s book “Writing your Way”, while writing the last feature piece was really useful to put all theories in practice in real time. Now, to digest more, I asked myself about my strong areas and weak areas.

Always the first chapters in any writing book are about the ideas, then the interviews. These are in my strong realm, I never run out of ideas nor people.

My real problems start when I start transcribing the interviews and writing the first draft. In Don Fry, he simplified the process to write in blocks, and to add the golden coins. The golden coins can be illustrated as pictures or strong quotes to keep the reader hooked and to push the story forward.

Moreover, I face the problem of how to end the story so the reader can remember it. Fry said that the ending is like a nice frame, that if cut, the story can still stand by itself.

Blundell’s book “The art and craft of feature writing”, answered these two weak points in six part step-by-step guide over two stages. The six parts are: History, scope, reasons, impacts, countermoves, and futures. The two stages are: planning and execution, and organization.

In the planning and execution stage, the step-by-step guide for the six blocks are listed in the book as specific questions for each part. As a summary, it is as follows:

  1. History: has the main theme roots in the past?
  2. Scope: any statistics, and numbers.
  3. Reasons: is there money or personal motives behind the events?
  4. Impacts: who is hurt? And how hard is his hurt? (It reminds me of the quote: what bleeds leads)
  5. Countermoves: who is defending? Who is winning in the story contrary forces?
  6. Futures: opinions of the observers.

In the organization stage, Blundell said that the only way is to index the facts and the interviews according to the 6-blocks mentioned above. He decomposed any feature story to the following stages:
One: Tease me, you devil.
Two: Tell me what you’re up to.
Three: Oh yeah?
Four: I’ll buy it. Help me remember it.

Hmm…this quote is quite true: “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.”

 

Fighting oneself

06 Oct
Fighting my internal critic and my mind over the gig selection

Fighting my internal critic and my mind over the gig selection

Finally, I have finished reading Don Fry’s book “Writing Your Way.” I like most the last chapter, where he collected all the book’s techniques. I feel that I want to re-read it again and want to re-write all my stories again, upon what I learned from the book. My internal critic is so loud right now yelling at me, “Do not pitch, you are not ready yet. Work on knowing yourself. You need more time to investigate your strengths and weaknesses.” But I can never know without trying.

Other than fighting with my internal critic, I am fighting my mind on the gig selection. It is like questioning myself: “Which cage do I like most, in order to lock my mind in it?” I get bored fast, nevertheless, I know that hopping around will not help me earn any money.

I know that there are shortage in journalists; who write about Muslims in America. According to my blogs’ analytics, the readers like most what I write about politics, travel, parenting and book reviews respectively.

I think I should start collecting newspapers’ writing guidelines and ask my social media about which of my writings they like most. May be talking with people, helps me decide.

Image source: https://s3.amazonaws.com/lowres.cartoonstock.com/sport-lamp-shadow-pugilist-fight-fighting-mfln5046_low.jpg

 

Writing Your Way – Don Fry

21 Sep

 

 

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Are you a Planner or Plunger?

“One of the horrors of the writer’s life is sitting at your keyboard not knowing what to say,” this sentence hooked me, this is exactly how I feel every time I have to write!
Don Fry in “Writing Your Way,” analyzes the writers, classifies them and guides each type. Fry is a writing coach, a writing teacher and a freelancer writer. He aimed the book at nonfiction writers who are not journalists.

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