• 1,500 words or so
  • Post copy in google.docs by Monday at noon

Given the readings for this week, this assignment should be unsurprising: write a profile of somebody you know. Keep the readings in mind, not so much as models but as indicators of possibilities: it may be that you'll want to write in a straightforward third person, like Malcolm Gladwell, without much of "you" in the story. It may seem more appropriate to "be there," in the way Klosterman is with Val Kilmer, as a participant observer. Or you may be able to move in and out of that role, as does Susan Orlean. It's less important which approach you choose than that the approach you choose fit the piece: the test of any narrative strategy is, ultimately, whether it works for the reader. So do what you need to do to help us see the person you're talking about.

Also, remember:

  • How you begin -- in journalism, "the lead" -- and how you end will frame our emotional respnose to the piece. Think about beginnings and endings.
  • Show, show, show. Detail is everything: if we can see the subject, if we can hear her, feel her, taste him, smell him, then we can begin to build our own complex take on the subject. Don't just tell us about somebody here -- show us the person.

You should trust details to convey ideas -- but remember that how we encounter those details, and when, are in your hands. We will see in this piece through your eyes, hear through your ears, feel with your hands. Guide us, and we will come to share your understanding.

And one last thing -- real people are always complicated. Nobody is just one thing. So try to get at the complexity of the person you write about if you can.

Last modified: Saturday, September 28, 2013, 8:25 AM