Check out this brief but insightful interview with Wright Thompson over at the Bleacher Report. In it, Thompson talks about the importance of scenes in non fiction writing:
Use the right scenes
A bad scene is often worse than no scene. And I understand the difficulty of dealing with no access. I know that I have the luxury now of passing on stories if the access won’t give me the tools I need to hit a home run. I get that isn’t indicative of the real world, or the job I had to do at the K.C. Star.
But still, be aware of this. Deal with it as best as you can while dealing with the realities of the modern sports media relations machine.
Here’s a test: If you have to do verbal gymnastics to get from the scene to the story that comes after, you need a new scene. I’ve done it more times than I care to remember: scene, then bizarre twisted sentence or two to get me back on track. Take it from someone who’s made that mistake: don’t.
Understand how the scenes fit together
Sometimes a great scene doesn’t work. I recently wrote a story about cricket and couldn’t use perhaps the funniest thing I observed because it took away from the arc. It was a great scene for some story … just not this one.
Try to remember that. The story is more important than any individual part.
The story is the thing, the story is the thing, the story is the thing.
Scott Raab is a one-man gang after LeBron James. I think his stuff on the James Misghegoss has been funny.
I admire Wright Thompson for many reasons, chiefly his talents as a reporter and his ambition as a bonus piece writer, but his most recent article is a bloated and self-important piece on James’ return to Cleveland. It brings out Thompson’s worst quality, all too often, he WRITES FOR THE AGES, and in the process he gets in the way of the story.
I like Charles Pierce’s take best:
This Blog would like to state for the record how tired it has become of the city of Cleveland, and its basketball team, and its basketball fans, and anything to do with how all of the above had their poor widdle hearts broken last summer when a player decided that seven years was long enough for anyone to play basketball in Cleveland. (And no more bellyaching about The Decision, either. Had The Decision gone the other way, and had he announced that he was staying, nobody in Cleveland would have been clutching their pearly about the good taste of it all.) This also goes for everyone else in every other city — including this one — who has been wailing the Ich bin ein Clevelander blues all season. Not one of you really cares about Cleveland or its basketball fans. Do not assume everyone in your audience is as dumb as a rock.
Seriously, get over yourselves, all of you.
I say James and the Heat romp tonight.