Ira Glass on Storytelling


Two main building blocks

  1. Sequence of actions – anecdote – that creates suspense and raises questions along the way (and readers expect those questions to be answered)
  2. Moment(s) of reflection on the suspense and questions raised

Can have great facts, but boring execution of above; can have boring facts and excellent execution of above.

Difficult to find a real story. What about for fiction? Looking within? Is there a tipping point of personal memories that create a story?

Every story isn’t going to be great or usable. Need to learn to abandon crap. Don’t want to be making mediocre stuff. Like golf – looking for that one great shot that keeps you going until the next time.

When starting a creative career, your taste may be killer, but your ability is below what you like. You know that your work is crappy – need to get past this phase!

Common pitfalls

  • Trying to imitate something you’ve seen. Just talk like a normal human being – this could go for writing, too. Go with your own flow.
  • Not showing your personality interacting with other human beings. Can’t have too much “you” or too much of the other characters.

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Attorney & Amateur Golfer