Writing coach extraordinare to share secrets of telling true stories at Fall Press Day


Jack Liu

By Rob Melton
One of the English-speaking world’s top writing coaches will speak to delegates at this year’s NWSP Fall Press Day Oct. 24 at University of Oregon in Eugene. Jack Hart’s session will reveal “The Secrets of Telling True Stories” based on news reports that will put your publications on the path of the world’s best narrative journalism.

Hart is currently the interim director of the SOJC’s George Turnbull Center in Portland, headquarters of Northwest Scholastic Press.

During his quarter century at The Oregonian,the Pacific Northwest’s largest newspaper, Hart served as managing editor, training editor, and writing coach. He has conducted writing workshops throughout the English-speaking world. He also has worked as a reporter, arts and leisure editor, Sunday magazine editor, and editor at large. He has additional reporting experience at two other newspapers.

Hart is also the author of A Writer’s Coach: An Editor’s Guide to Words That Work,released as a Pantheon hardback in 2006 and as a The paperback edition of “A Writer’s Coach” was published by Anchor Books in 2007. A Writer’s Coach is Hart’s effort to make writing less painful for the rest of us. The book can help any writer learn the tricks and habits of good writers.

“Just about everybody agrees that good writing is tight, that it’s forceful,” Hart explains. “Good writing incorporates lively verbs and clean syntax. It’s colorful. It includes descriptive elements that can put you in the scene. It’s rhythmic. ” Developing a process to get you there is not some closely guarded mystery, Hart explains, but the step-by-step conquest of craft.

His latest book, Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing) was published last summer.

Hart’s other works include The Information Empire, a history of the Los Angeles Times, along with dozens of articles for popular magazines, academic journals, and trade publications. His column, “The Writer’s Workshop,” ran in Editor & Publisher magazine for a decade.

He edited four Pulitzer Prize finalists, including winners in explanatory journalism and feature writing. He also edited a portion of the work recognized with the 2001 Pulitzer Gold Medal for Public Service and the 2006 breaking-news Pulitzer. Along the way he developed an international reputation for his work with narrative nonfiction.

Hart, who earned his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin doctorate in Mass Communications, was a tenured faculty member and acting dean of the journalism school at the University of Oregon, and taught at six major universities. He’s also served as visiting faculty at the American Press Institute and the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

He has coached national winners of the ASNE writing awards, the Ernie Pyle award, the Scripps-Howard business-writing award, the Overseas Press Club awards, the Headliners awards and the Society of Professional Journalists feature-writing award.

He was recently profiled by the University of Washington as an outstanding alumnus of the Department of Communication. (http://www.com.washington.edu/alumni/notes/profiles/hart.html) The article explains how he accidently discovered journalism and became one of the first writing coaches for a daily newspaper.

Read the in-depth Q&A with Hart about “Storycraft” and narrative nonfiction as an American literary form by Andrea Pitzer for the Nieman Storyboard: http://www.niemanstoryboard.org/2011/10/20/jack-hart-storycraft-narrative-nonfiction-interview/

Other excellent craft articles by Hart about how to write well and tell great stories can be found online: