What makes a story good? Lessons for all public writers” by Roy Peter Clark.t’s always fun—and exceedingly rare—to read an article you wholeheartedly agree with, especially when it’s on a topic you’re passionate about. But today was my lucky day when I stumbled upon the piece, “
It’s one of the most informative articles that I’ve read in awhile, and I have to say I agree with all 13 of Roy’s points. With this in mind, I’ll be referencing his words a lot—because, well, they just make so much sense.
The purpose of a story is not to convey information, but to convey experience. A report tells me how many gallons of oil are polluting the Gulf. A story transports me to a boat where old fishermen are working to save the shoreline.
Reports have their time and place, but when it comes to citizen journalism, the best way you can write is through storytelling. People remember stories and are influenced by stories. Raw facts and information just don’t have the same effect. Think back to high school English—remember pathos, ethos and logos?
It is fair to say that traditional news media privilege the voices of a too-narrow band of stakeholders…To cover a community well, you must hire a representative cross-section of the society. But that’s not enough. If we wait until that happens, we won’t see the inclusion we need soon enough.
This is why niches can be so valuable. The majority will always have a voice, but certain topics, groups and areas lack that same representation. When you’re a blogger, you have an opportunity to fill that empty role.
The anecdote has become increasingly controversial. Readers and writers tend to embrace the anecdote — or little story — as a way to encapsulate that part of the world they are covering. But we all know that anecdotes can be chosen for their dramatic power rather than for their representational value.
Yes, yes, yes. Anecdotes are powerful, and when something holds a lot of power, it can be used for good or for bad. Think politicians. Anecdotes are very influential in this setting and can be used to highlight certain ideas while purposefully leaving others in the shadows.
Blogging is a little more than just putting words on paper. Everyone is going to naturally develop their own writing style, but the core, essential components of good writing remain the same.
And hey, I get it, it’s challenging at first. But the more you write, the more you’ll hone that voice and in turn, the more success you’ll find. Check out the whole piece, though, for more lessons on writing.