How to find that break-your-heart detail for your story

Every conversation and moment in your reporting process can yield powerful details that guide you to the heart of your story. Here are two ways veteran journalism Diana K. Sugg suggests to search for the clues that lead you to the "sacred moment" in journalism--when you discover what your story is really about.

Constantly scan the beat. Read the email, take the phone calls, talk to people. Be aware of that moment when you realize, "I don't hear about that much." It's a signal that you've found your story.

Keep digging for information. Stories are like old houses with secret stairways and hidden corners. Push past your initial assumptions to look for the real world of the story. Ask questions and ask more questions.

Taken from Pulitzer Prize-Winning Writers: Secrets of Their Craft, a self-directed course with Diana K. Sugg and other prize-winning journalists at Poynter NewsU.

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    Vicki Krueger

    Vicki Krueger has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 20 years in roles from editor to director of interactive learning and her current position as marketing communications manager.

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