Response to “Mindy McAdams: reports vs. stories” review

April 4, 2011

Several weeks ago I wrote a review on Mindy McAdams article “Is your story actually a story.” In said article I discussed McAdams beliefs on novice journalists and how they have difficulty finding actual stories. I never, however, came to a conclusion on how to create or what constitutes a good “story.” In her more recent article, “Teaching about storytelling,” McAdams elaborates on creating a good story, and what separates student journalists from their more experienced adult counterparts.

You might be wondering why a journalist is able to find a story anywhere he goes, when you can’t find a story no matter how hard you look. McAdams explains that professionals are so adept to finding stories because “they are curious about the world, about people, about things they see. They aren’t walking around thinking: “Damn, I have to find a story …” They’re thinking: “Wow, I wonder who made that? I wonder why she’s doing that? I wonder how that got here?” The only way that we can create truly exceptional stories is if we are curious and if we find the answers to questions that nobody else asks.

Rather than fretting about the beginning, middle, and end of a story, beginner journalists should “think about what they want to end with — the point of it all.” According to McAdams, “if you can’t tell me that [why a story is so important], then you do not have a story at all.”

After determining your objective, all that you need to do to create a story is analyze:

1. How effective your story is

2. Why it will grab a reader’s attention

3. How the story will hold a reader’s attention

4. How you come to the point of your story

5. How well you conclude the story
If your story determine that your story is effective, and will grab and hold your readers’ attention then you have graduated from elementary level journalistic reports and are well on your way to writing news stories comparable to those of professionals in the field.

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