Find the action

Reporters who want to follow the action in a story need to know where to find it. You can’t tell a captivating, narrative story if you’re not present to capture the action. But how do you know when it’s going to happen? Reporter Lane DeGreory of the St. Petersburg Times writes in the IRE Journal that she asks seven questions:

  1. Can I go along for a ride or take a walk or be at a meeting, a trial or a funeral?
  2. Is something going to happen?
  3. Is the place important, the action important, or is the person important?
  4. Will there be interaction between [the subject of the story] and others?
  5. Do I want to tell the story around one scene or five minutes or a whole day, or perhaps follow someone over a period of time?
  6. Do the characters experience an epiphany?
  7. What’s the big idea?

DeGregory shares her strategies in the book Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide… reviewed in the IRE Journal by Steve Weinberg.

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