February 28: Mark Labowskie

spring course: sound stories

open meeting

inside story

One Step Script at a Time
By Bonnie Swift

We don’t know who this story comes from, and perhaps because the author remains anonymous, listening to The Age of Consent feels like being on the receiving side of a confessional booth. This story is essentially a series of incommodious admissions, portrayed through a series of vividly-narrated, increasingly intense moments. 


In the interest of protecting the author’s privacy, This American Life’s senior producer Julie Snyder reads the story on the air. It’s recounted in the first person, and centers on the author’s teenage daughter’s first foray into sexual activity.


Like any great story, this one is told in such a way that it feels organic and spontaneous, but also like any great story, it is actually very carefully engineered. In radio in particular, a story’s design remains well hidden because so much of its power comes from feeling authentic, intimate, and spontaneous.


Two Truths are Better than One
By Charlie Mintz

A great story is like a hidden fossil -- except instead of buried in the earth, stories are buried in people. Like an archaeologist, the interviewer must map out where to search, determine the outlines of the story, and ever-so-carefully bring it into the light. Retrieving just one story -- intact, with all its delicate edges preserved -- is the task of an expert. But the truly exceptional storytellers have an extra sense. They can recognize when the fossil they're extracting is not the only one. They know when to expand the operation, and when to dig deep.


That's what we're going to explore today: how do you develop the ability to get the whole story? How can you sense when a little more probing can yield an entirely new layer of astonishment? We'll be answering that question by looking at a recent story from This American Life called My Ames is True, told by the eminent Michael Lewis.