Don’t stop until you reveal conflict

As you develop features and profiles, don’t forget to focus on conflict, a driving force in all storytelling. A profile story without conflict is typically as exciting to read as someone’s resume. Don’t just cite someone’s accomplishments and stats, sprinkled with some general comments. Instead, tell stories that involve your characters, scenes, plots, and conflict. That means you’ll need to dig through articles, observe locations, and interview as many people as possible in order to find a compelling angle. During interviews, keep talking until you find a major conflict. Once this person starts talking, listen for visual markers and other specific details that will enable you to paint the story more clearly. If this information is not supplied, ask for it – “What was the weather like?” “Where were you standing?” “Describe the trail you ran on.” “What did the heat feel like?” There are a million ways to write a profile, or feature, but there is really one primary factor that drives these stories – conflict. So go find it. Your readers will be most thankful.

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About jgisondi

I am the author of the "Field Guide To Covering Sports," the second edition now available from Congressional Quarterly Press/SAGE, and "Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot" (U of Nebraska Press). Field Guide to Covering Sports, Second Edition goes beyond general guidance about sports writing, offering readers practical advice on covering 20 specific sports. From auto racing to wrestling, author Joe Gisondi gives tips on the seemingly straightforward—like where to stand on the sideline and how to identify a key player—along with the more specialized—such as figuring out shot selection in lacrosse and understanding a coxswain’s call for a harder stroke in rowing. In the new Second Edition, readers also explore sports reporting across multimedia platforms, developing a foundational understanding for social media, mobile media, visual storytelling, writing for television and radio, and applying sabermetrics. Fully revised with new examples and updated information to give readers confidence in covering just about any game, match, meet, race, regatta or tournament, Field Guide to Covering Sports, Second Edition is the ideal go-to resource to have on hand when mastering the beat. In "Monster Trek," Joe Gisondi brings to life the celebrities in bigfoot culture: people such as Matt Moneymaker, Jeff Meldrum, and Cliff Barackman, who explore remote wooded areas of the country for weeks at a time and spend thousands of dollars on infrared imagers, cameras, and high-end camping equipment. Pursuing the answer to why these seekers of bigfoot do what they do, Gisondi brings to the reader their most interesting—and in many cases, harrowing—expeditions. You can order both from Amazon.
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