Tuesday, July 28, 2009


So I'm working on a novel, have been pretty much full-time for the last couple months. The process is going well. It's a very research-intensive book, so that's what's occupied most of my time, plus I have about 50 pages worth of typewritten notes and a detailed outline. Just recently I've started writing the actual book. Two chapters are under my belt, and it's going pretty smoothly.

That is, until today.

Chapter 3 starts out with a newspaper article. I'm trying to write it to look like a feature story that would run in the Sunday issue of a major metropolitan daily newspaper.

And I'm stuck.

I guess you could call it irony. For the past decade, the thing I've dedicated my work life to is writing real newspaper articles. But for the life of me, I can't figure out how to write this fake one.

So I think I'm going to have to take a new strategy. Instead of trying to create an entire article from my imagination, I'm going to have to do it like I would have back when I was a working journalist: by conducting interviews.

Of course, they'll be fake interviews. I'll ask myself questions and answer them in the voice of the characters of my novel. I'll make transcripts, and I'll get way more information than I'll need for the story, then pick and choose what works (you can judge a good news article, and a good book, by the quality of what's left on the editing room floor).

I'm gonna feel pretty silly interviewing myself. But it's the only thing I can think of to make the fake news story feel real.

I am, however, open to suggestions.

--Matt Kelsey, fake journalist


  1. Oh man, you can do this. Go stretch your legs, shoot some hoops, read some great journalism ... or have a drink ... and come back to it later. Remember what the master taught you. Open with an action word ... or something more interesting than "the," "it" or "a." Remember the 5Ws and the H. Write using all of your senses ... describe things exactly how they are ... how you see them, not as you want them to be. Capture the scene. Work in some fresh dialogue. And make sure you have that one sentence near the beginning that clairfies what your report is about: the "nut" graph. Tie the end into the beginning. I know. Easier said than done, right???

  2. Matt, this should take you back to the second week of Reporting I.

  3. Actually, writing this blog post must have cleared my mind a little. I sat down after that and cranked out about 1,000 words...
    --Matt Kelsey