Welcome to Narrative Beat!
Let's start with a promise: If you forgive me the occasional typo and an f-bomb or two, I'll do my best to help you tell better stories.

Maybe you're trying to get over the hump on that big project you've been working on? Or maybe you need some inspiration to help you get started?

Either way...
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But before we become best-friends-in-narrative, I think we need to get one thing straight.

WTF is narrative, anyway?

Narrative is not difficult. Narrative does not take months -- or years -- to produce. Narrative is not something that can only be achieved by people who are better, smarter or more accomplished than you.

"Narrative" is simply defined as a story, told through a series of anecdotes, that describes change over time.

Lots of people like to say that narrative stories have a beginning, middle and end.

I hate to tell you, but everything has a beginning, middle and end. This paragraph has a beginning, middle and end. This sentence has a beginning, middle and end.

The word 'end' has a beginning, middle and end.

Stories don't have a beginning, middle and end. They have a before, during and after.

It might not seem like a big difference. But it changes everything.
Listen for more!

If you want to go deeper into this subject, I'd recommend the dorky (but useful) rant I recorded back in 2017 for a now defunct podcast called The Pub about how we embraced narrative at the now defunct public radio sports show, Only A Game.
Narrative techniques are used in expensive, time-consuming audio documentaries. But narrative techniques can also be used in the podcast you record over Zoom with your best friend.

If you use narrative techniques in your reporting, your reporting will be better.

If you use narrative techniques in your conversations, your conversations will be better.

If you use narrative techniques in your annual holiday letter, your annual holiday letter will be better.

So join me. And let's all tell better stories...together.

Karen
Resources I Love
News Feature v. Narrative: What's the Difference?

This Neiman Storyboard explainer is great, even though it uses the awkwardly imprecise "beginning, middle and end" analogy.

Out on the Wire

This is podcast is a few years old now, but it's crammed full of great advice. Years after my first listen, I still sometimes ask myself, WWJAD? (What would Jessica Abel do?)

Gimlet Academy

This 5-episdoe series from Gimlet founder Alex Blumberg breaks down all the most important concepts, including a clarification of the "beginning, middle and end" analogy that I find shockingly helpful.

All in Favor… Say I!

If you listened to my rant for The Pub (linked above) you know that Sean Cole is one of my favorite producers, and -- to be honest -- one of my favorite humans. His Transom manifesto was published more than a decade ago, before he became a staffer at This American Life. It's still 100% worth your time.
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