Profile writing – Make it interesting

I am highly interested in writing profile pieces.  One of my favorite and I believe best pieces I wrote was about Town of Elon Police Chief, LaVell Lovette in the spring.  I think this is what I want to focus on – telling people’s stories.

Today I attended two sessions about writing profiles.  One of the sessions specifically focused on writing sports profiles.

The first session I went to was run by a former writer for ESPN.  He focused on the interview process and how to ask successful questions to give you necessary information to write the story.  First of all, the people who know the subject are the most valuable people to interview, not necessarily the people themselves.  You always want to start with general questions in order to get people to be more comfortable, then ease into the more difficult questions.  During your interview, you want to identify major themes that you can use throughout your story.  Finally, the biggest idea that I learned is that you want to make people feel comfortable.  You don’t need to pry, when someone is ready, they will talk.  Along the same lines, if someone is hesitant, make people feel that they can benefit from telling their story.

The session I went to about writing sports profiles was helpful as well. Whatever the story is, always look for conflict.  This doesn’t need to be conflict in the typical way we think of conflict, and does not necessarily have to be entirely negative.  Try not to be gushing when writing profiles because not everyone is all good or all bad.  Finally, you, as the journalist tell the story.  Eliminate many quotes and tell the story. If you did the research, you should be able to write with authority and tell the story, without using a lot of quotes.

– Pam Richter


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