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Navy Storytelling Workshop Sept 2013


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Agenda and notes page for Navy Storytelling Workshop held in the Pacific Northwest, Coronado, Calif., and Norfolk, Va. the last week of September 2013.

Published in: Education, News & Politics
  • Helens! ... Although I like Hell in the Sky better.
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Navy Storytelling Workshop Sept 2013

  1. 1. Agenda and references Types of Features Ref: Feature & Magazine Writing: Action, Angle and Anecdotes by David E. Sumner and Holly G. Miller, pages 15-17 Story Ref: Story Craft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction by Jack Hart, pages 9-16 Action Ref: Feature & Magazine Writing: Action, Angle and Anecdotes by David E. Sumner and Holly G. Miller, pages 117-120 Anecdotes Ref: Feature & Magazine Writing: Action, Angle and Anecdotes by David E. Sumner and Holly G. Miller, pages 5 and 118 Ref: A Writer’s Coach: An Editor’s Guide to Words that Work by Jack Hart, pages 150-153 Ideas and Angles Ref: A Writer’s Coach: An Editor’s Guide to Words that Work by Jack Hart, pages 8-13 Research and Interviews Ref: Feature & Magazine Writing: Action, Angle and Anecdotes by David E. Sumner and Holly G. Miller, pages 57-65 Color: Observation and Details Ref: A Writer’s Coach: An Editor’s Guide to Words that Work by Jack Hart, pages 167-181 Putting it all together Navy Storytelling September 2013 Silverdale, WA Coronado, CA Norfolk, VA
  2. 2. types of features Shorts Interesting, informative and relevant nonfiction items of various lengths How to How to transfer 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your dependents How to prepare your house for the movers How to conduct the perfect spot check How to retake your ASVAB How to convert into a new rate and advance quickly Lists Five steps to get your budget under control 5 Places to visit during port visit 4 Ratings looking for Sailors now, ready to advance to PO1 Personal experience How I overcame my fear of R-Supply, became hero of my shop My Struggle to Summit Mt Saint Helens, AKA Hell Climb
  3. 3. types of features Profiles A story intended to reveal the personality or character of an institution or person. Seasonal Pieces A story tied to a specific time on the calendar. Anniversaries, observances, historic dates Trends and Issues A phenomenon that is increasing or decreasing in frequency. A development that affects a portion of the audience or something the audience assigns value to. Inspiration and Motivation Pieces A story that teaches, inspires, motivates through highlighting a personal example. Dramatic Stories A story that is about one person or group and one specific event.
  4. 4. story Story = Action + Character + Complication + Resolution Examples: Blackhawk Down by Mark Bowden Soldiers battle Somali street fighters after helicopter crash and attempt to get back to their base without being killed Man Overboard Sailors launch RHIB into freezing ocean and attempt to rescue Sailor who fell overboard Paying for child’s college Sailor navigates complex websites and new rules to transfer GI Bill benefits to child Fighting for my son’s life when he wants to die Sailor fights to understand suicidal son, resources available “There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” Ursula K. Le Guin
  5. 5. Action is people doing something Tell stories about people doing things using: Narrative = people doing things Dialogue = people saying things Exposition = explaining stuff Description = describing stuff Narrative moves the story from Point A to B to Z Dialogue brings character to life Narrative + Dialogue = Engine and Frame of story Exposition + Description = Paint Job + Rims “Readers love action, any kind of action, and the story that does not move, that just sits there justly labeled by some editors as MEGO – My Eyes Glaze Over.” William Blundell, The Art and Craft of Feature Writing action
  6. 6. People like stories about people Use anecdotes; they are important for 3 reasons 1. They take a general topic and demonstrate it to the reader through a specific situation. 2. They show people doing things so readers can see them, empathize with them and imagine themselves in the same situation. 3. They make stories more interesting, add credibility and believability anecdotes
  7. 7. “My working habits are simple: long periods of thinking, short periods of writing.” Ernest Hemingway Ideas come from your experiences, observations and conversations. - Get out more. Walk, talk, look, listen Events are not stories ideas and angles
  8. 8. blundell chain Navy Budget Reduced Ship maintenance deferred Sailors to do more upkeep maintenance Ships spend more money on Maintenance Command Budgets reduced Less money for departments Less trained Sailors Less money for training Less money for departments High risk evolutions become riskier Shipboard Safety decreased Minor Maintenance deferred Minor Maintenance deferred Ship deployments extended Extra stress on ships, crew Maintenance deferred b/c deployment Sailor retention decreases Shipboard manning decreases Takes longer to accomplish task Longer work hours = less sleep = more tired Sailors Takes longer to accomplish task Longer work hours = less sleep = more tired Sailors
  9. 9. ladder of abstraction Damage Controlman Fireman John Doe Sailors in DCFN John Doe’s Flying Squad Sailors aboard DCFN’s ship All Firefighters – military and civilian All Sailors Americans All of Humanity Everything there is Your story = Sailor saves ship, people by putting out fire Action: DCFN John Doe leads flying squad to the Aft Main Machinery Room which is on fire. Character: DCFN Doe Complication: First real fire, overcoming fear of failure Resolution: Leads hose team to extinguish fire Story exits on a continuum from the absolute concrete to the abstract. DCFN also represents all the other Flying Squad Sailors. This story also talks to what they accomplished. Description is more generalized though… “They wore FFEs, looked through face shields attached to their yellow helmets….” DCFN also represents all the Sailors on the ship. They all were affected/worried by the fire. DCFN also represents all Sailors. We’ve been there. We relate. We respect. Same thing with all firefighters. DCFN’s struggles of fear, wanting to save others, wanted to be challenged, tested… they apply to all Americans and humans. We relate. Great story moves us up and down the ladder of abstraction with ideas, themes that give us all something to relate with…
  10. 10. Good stories come from good research - Read, ask, read more If you can’t explain your story in one sentence, you don’t have a workable idea ideas and angles
  11. 11. Good research = good stories Research past stories on the subject Get bio information first; know who you’re interviewing Conduct pre-interviews with many people around the story Interviewing Interviews aren’t conducted to just find quotes; Interviews are conducted so you can understand the story (and find anecdotes and quotes that breathe life into the story) research and interviews
  12. 12. Interviewing basics • Prepare a long list of questions you can’t find through research • Phrase questions so they encourage the subject to express opinions and feelings • Don’t crowd the interview – give plenty of time for the subject to answer and don’t ‘guide’ them to an answer • Ask questions that elicit anecdotes • Cluster questions into categories to keep their thought in one area at a time • Listen to the answers and try to ask follow-up questions • Take notes about body language • After the interview, take time to write down your observations during the interview. – How did the person talk? Fast? Slow? Deliberate? Did they take time to think first and then answer? Reserved? Energetic? Rapid-fire? – What were the mannerisms of the subject? Foot-tapping? Always checking email? Relaxed? Warm? – What were the subjects facial features? Kind, weathered? Quick to smile? research and interviews
  13. 13. Authenticity • We are there each day. Our world is normal for us, but exotic for most others. Observe the surroundings. Make the SCENE part of your story. – Written pieces: Use specific language to set the scene – Audio pieces: Give me natsound bursts to fill my mind with what’s going on – Video pieces: give me NATSOUND bursts to fill my mind with what’s going on Specificity • Use concrete words that add meaning – Use specific nouns to add clarity – Use specific verbs to add vigor Details matter • Was the subject wearing a flight jacket, or a flight jacket with 32 patches from her five deployments in eight years. • Was the subject dragging tie chains across the flight deck, or was the 140 pound Sailor lugging 50 pounds of tie down chains strung over her neck color: observation and details
  14. 14. • Entice me first • Tell me people stories • Understand what your theme is • How does your story relate to people at different levels, different places – The best stories are ones that people can relate to… they tell us something about being a person • Show me, don’t tell me • Story = Action + Character + Complication + Resolution putting it all together