“It’s all about understanding who your audience is and what they want to get out of what you’re writing. If you don’t feel like you understand your audience, then your story is going to be adrift.” — Jason Feifer
Every week at Praxis, participants and alumni gather for Praxis Wednesdays, our weekly group discussions featuring guest speakers, academic debates, and skills workshops.
This past week we were joined by editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Jason Feifer for a workshop on the elements of telling a compelling story, things to watch when improving your writing, and the launch of his own novel in the fall.
About the guest: Along with being editor-in-chief at Entrepreneur, Jason Feifer is the host of two podcasts: Pessimists Archive, about the history of unfounded fears in innovation, and Problem Solvers, exploring how entrepreneurs solve unforeseen problems in their businesses. Prior to Entrepreneur, Jason served as an editor at multiple publications, including Men’s Health and Fast Company.
In the workshop, Jason covered:
- The difference between over-explaining and under-explaining, and how to strike a balance between the two.
- The importance of making sure every word serves a purpose.
- How he’s changed the focus and tone of Entrepreneur in his time as editor.
- What he looks for in a story (since he reads copious amounts of them).
- The concept of texture and architecture in your piece — tone and structure.
- How to write a compelling lede (the opening of a journalistic piece).
- How to get a reader to buy into a piece (since they don’t read it unless they know what the payoff is going to be.
- His novel, why he wrote a novel in the first place, the importance of diversification as a writer, and a teaser for what to expect when the novel launches this fall.
“Think about how writing can have texture, and how a story can have texture, and how you can feel something along the way. It has a tangibleness to it. If you’re there, you’re building something people can really walk through.” — Jason Fiefer
Jason also shared the components of telling a compelling story:
- Understand your audience and know what resonates with them.
- Make sure the piece has a conscious voice — is it being told in a conversational way? An authoritative way? Novice writers will switch voice in the middle of the piece.
- Understand what makes a reader carry through the story. Who is your character, and why do you care about them? You need to take your reader with you on a journey.
Here’s an excerpt from the discussion on Wednesday: