When can I write narrative?
I desperately want to write a narrative. My editors
keep telling me that I can start on one when my daily beat
work is done. But my daily work is never done. Should I give
up, or should I go to another newspaper? -- Never Finished
Dear Never Finished,
Hold on here. You're talking about narrative as if it's somehow
different from journalism. Most good journalism is narrative.
Can you disappear from the newsroom for three months to write
an 800-inch hulking gorilla? The answer, given the size of
most newsrooms and nature of most beats, is no. And your readers
don't want you to.
But can you write narrative? Absolutely.
Narrative means telling a story -- with a beginning, a middle,
an end and a point. It doesn't have to be 800 inches and full
of flashbacks and foreshadowing.
To see examples, check out early Toronto Daily Star
dispatches in "Byline: Ernest Hemingway Selected Articles
and Dispatches of Four Decades" (1967, Scribner).
About the column
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