Open Meeting

inside story

Framing Failure
By Will Rogers

The staff members of This American Life are often challenging themselves with little experiments (24 hours at a diner, 20 acts in 60 minutes, stories pitched by their parents), and I’ve noticed a theme that intrigues me: Sometimes when an experiment goes badly, the story still turns out sounding fantastic.


I often shy away from telling stories about when things go badly in my own life/work… I like to tuck these experiences away in a closet, waiting for the day when they’ll ripen into success stories. I’m sure that the staff of This American Life has plenty of stories in their own story closet, failures that they don’t share with their audience. But they also have this trick that I’ve really grown to appreciate, and it involves failing, then talking about what went badly and why -- and when this strategy is used well, worse becomes better.


Can You Give Me a Hypothetical?
By Will Rogers

Sometimes the best thing in a story is something that doesn’t actually happen in the story... it’s something that’s imagined-as-happening.

I noticed it recently in a David Sedaris story, Accidental Deception. Even though what occurs in the story is wonderful and hilarious, it’s the moment when Sedaris describes what kinds of things could occur, that the story becomes one of my favorites.