Thursday, February 25, 2010
Tell Me A Story
A Sunday night ritual at our house is watching Sixty Minutes. A few weeks back, shortly after my return from the Hamline residency, the show featured a segment on Don Hewiit, the genius producer of the longest-running TV show in history. "Tell me a story," Hewitt says to his reporters. "Every kid in America knows that."
Hewitt passed away last year. But footage from interviews and production meetings revealed a man who valued story above all else. What's the best story to tell about this person, this situation? What angle serves the story best? These questions to the likes of Mike Wallace. Hewitt discussed how every week he likes to feature three stories, one of which wil appeal to every viewer in America. Not to water down, but to reach Americans coast to coast. There is always one story segment that draws me in more than the others.
This week I am reading James B. Stewart's book Follow the Story: How To Write Successful Nonfiction. I just wrote to one of my students in her packet letter about Stewart's emphasis on story-telling rather than analysis. The old show not tell.
Every kid in America wants a story. Let's go write them.