New Yorker contributor Susan Orlean shares some simple advice for writers — allow your “I want to know more about that” to lead.
Orlean finds her stories while reading newspapers, scanning billboards, walking the streets and overhearing conversations.
“The only way you can find good story ideas is to be out in the world,” Orlean says.
As a bachelor in communications student at William Woods University, you must take that innate curiosity one step further. In the advice of best-selling author Gay Talese, “You have to show up.”
Journalism textbooks often cite Talese for his 1966 Esquire article, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold.” Talese turned rejection by Sinatra’s publicist into a reporting challenge,
shadowing Sinatra’s every move and blanket interviewing anyone with ties to the musician, from co-stars to family and friends to employees. The piece signaled the dawn of a “new journalism.”
Once told by a New York Times editor to “stay away from the phone,” Talese updates that advice for today’s young writers: “Stay away from the Internet.”
“You have to see these people, you have to look at their face, study their expression, their gestures,” his editor advised. “It’ll tell you more than what just comes out of their mouth.”
William Woods University Bachelor of Science in Communication students can craft their writing skills for both news writing and long-form journalism through courses such as COM110 Beginning Media Writing or COM315 Feature Writing and Magazine as well as through involvement with on-campus writing groups and publications such as Writer’s Ink and The Hoot Campus Magazine.
Beyond the William Woods campus, writers can gain more experience and develop their talent through attending workshops and events held by organizations all across the state, such as The Writers Place in Kansas City, Missouri Writers’ Guild with chapters in Columbia, St. Louis and all across Missouri, Saturday Writers in St. Peters, and many others.