As a reformed journalist (four years as a copy editor for a daily newspaper before I jumped ship—first to business and then to higher education), I have a soft spot in my heart for good journalism. And my love is strong for work that seriously examines the stories, challenges, and triumphs of the people in my part of the world, the largely rural central United States.
Great journalism that also informs and strengthens my fiction writing? Score!
A couple of years ago, The New Territory, a magazine with a mission to “cultivate connections among the land, people and possibilities of the Lower Midwest,” launched.
It’s a beautiful magazine, published quarterly and filled with personal essays, photography, fiction, poetry, art, and the kind of quality journalism that takes a deep dive into important issues. Its focus may be Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Missouri, but the stories have significance beyond their borders. Conservation. Transportation. Health care.
Its insightful articles are also a terrific resource for my fiction, most of which is set in small towns in what some people deride as flyover country.
This past week, The New Territory’s role as one of my writing resources took a new turn when it hosted a Facebook Live event with Michael Noll, whose short story “The Dependents” appeared in the magazine’s second issue. (“The Dependents” is this month’s free story of the month on The New Territory website.) For forty minutes or so, Noll gave a mini-class in fiction writing, character development, and place as an integral story ingredient. If you have time to spare, especially if you’re a writer, check out the October 25 video on the magazine’s Facebook page.
Because of that Facebook Live event, I visited Noll’s website, Read to Write Stories, and found a treasure trove of writing resources: an extensive collection of author interviews and writing exercises—in categories such as Exercises to Help Find a Premise and Exercises for Structure—based on excerpts of published essays, novels, and more. The interviews I’ve read so far have been enlightening, and I’ve bookmarked the site for the future.
My younger self, from the pre-Internet era, would be overwhelmed by the sheer volume, diversity, and availability of resources for writers today. The ones described here—from traditional print journalism to websites to social media—represent just a tiny slice. As a writer, what are your favorite resources for research or honing your craft?
As a reader, what are your favorites for learning about writers or books you might be interested in?