Compelling longform stories make some of the web’s most engaging content. In this two day course ambitious feature writers and those wanting to make the most of the opportunities of digital longform will discover the techniques they need to develop, produce and pitch their stories.
Tutor Giles Wilson set up the acclaimed BBC News Magazine and also launched Well Told, the UK’s first conference in longform and narrative journalism. He has years of experience of helping journalists develop their techniques and approach to telling stories at length.
By the end of the two days, participants will have developed their own stories, building on what they have learned. The aim is for their stories to be ready to be pitched for publication.
● Overview of the course, including a brief history of the development of longform especially relating to the UK tradition and style
● What is success, with examples of good and bad (incl clients’ own)
● Outline of sub-genres, incl. profiles, interviews, travel, personal essays, history/reconstruction, investigative
● Digital & social good practice checklist, & introduction to metrics
● Advantages of a narrative approach; what escaping a newsvoice brings, but how to retain impartiality
● Key elements – characters, scenes, story, twists, voice and tone – an introduction to the building blocks of narrative approach
● Building a story arc – the skills of knowing where to bring a story in, how to pivot if necessary
● Research methods, including note-taking, making most of the time available, and techniques for making detailed observations
● What are the main platforms for longform, and what are their relative strengths and weaknesses
● What effect the publication method has on the editorial
● Cost of use and opportunities for revenue
● Multimedia and project planning – the importance of thinking outside the text
● What is good media for inclusion – technical and stylistic approaches
● Successful integration of multimedia – how to retain the story amid the different threads
● The different approach to planning workflow
● Fact & Fiction – how to draw the line in the right place
● The writer in the story – the risks, and the benefits, of being bringing yourself into the story
● Being fair with subjects – using quotes and descriptions without losing impartiality
● Different things to measure, incl business models
● Power of ‘engagement’, and methodology for working out what it means
● How metrics can change content for better – examples of where it’s sharpened an editorial approach
● What top 20 long stories have in common. Subjects, styles, platforms.
● Techniques for selling stories to editors, including a practical workshop on selling ideas
● Skills for maximising social promotion, also including a workshop
● The strength of using promotion as your starting point.
● Making a go of self-publishing
● What an editor adds to your story
● What an editor needs from you, plus how to make the most of the time
● How to do it yourself or for a friend
● Presentation of all eight clients’ stories
● Discussion of how each developed
● What clients learned in the process
Giles has been a digital journalist since the very start of the BBC News website, and introduced many of the features which have become familiar to millions of daily readers. The growth of longform digital journalism was Giles’s passion, and he edited many landmark pieces for the corporation.
Giles is now creative director of digital content agency Harpoon Productions, which produces content for a variety of brands, publishers and organisations.
He has also set up Well Told, which ran the UK’s first longform and narrative journalism conference and champions the spread of digital longform in the UK.