Finding the Heart of the Story

Course Overview

Finding the Heart of the Story
Seminar Snapshot
Time Estimate:
About an hour

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About Seminar Snapshots

A Seminar Snapshot features video highlights that capture the key learning of a seminar presentation.

One of the toughest tasks in the writing process is finding the focus of your story. Sharpening your focus requires that you go beyond identifying the news story, dig deeper and zero in on the underlying themes of the story.

This presentation will help you sort through masses of information you gather in your reporting and enable you to determine what is relevant — and what's not. You'll learn how razor-sharp focus helps you identify important characters, decide how to start and end the story and discern which themes will resonate with your readers.

This presentation is part of a workshop that covers five important steps in the writing process: generating story ideas, collecting the facts and details, finding focus in your story, structuring your work and revising your writing.

The other presentations in this series are:

Generating Story Ideas: Seeing the Stories All Around You: Alexandra Zayas, general assignment reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, introduces you to proven techniques that will help you recognize and refine your best story ideas.

Hunt and Gather Details for Your Stories: Tom French, teacher and facilitator at The Poynter Institute and at Indiana University's journalism school, teaches you to research and report the kinds of human detail and vivid scenes that will make your writing come alive.

Planning and Drafting Your Story: Roy Peter Clark, writing instructor since 1979, vice president and senior scholar at The Poynter Institute, teaches you how to draft your story using a quick plan and outlining its most important parts.

Mastering the Craft of Revision: Chip Scanlan, reporting, writing and editing faculty affiliate at The Poynter Institute, offers revision techniques that will help you identify problems in your stories and make the changes, big and small, that will make your writing stand out.

Check out the Training Package to purchase the entire five-part series!

What Will I Learn:
  • Identifying universal themes found in stories
  • Zooming tight to examine a complex story
  • Selecting themes that will resonate with a wide spectrum of readers
Who should take this course:

Storytellers who seek to identify and sharpen the focus of their stories.


Tom Huang

Tom Huang is Sunday & Enterprise Editor at The Dallas Morning News and Adjunct Faculty member of The Poynter Institute, where he oversees the school’s writing program. He has worked at The Dallas Morning News since 1993, first as a feature writer, then as features editor, and now as the Sunday Page One editor. At Poynter, he teaches seminar sessions in ethics, diversity, writing and leadership issues, and he was co-editor of Poynter’s Best Newspaper Writing book for 2008-2009. You can follow him on Twitter at @tomthuang.