Crafting Truth: Research and Reporting for All Genres (with Constance Hale)

Constance Hale

Constance Hale




TUESDAYS, JULY 12—AUGUST 16 | Many of us who pursue literary work forget that inside every great writer is an intrepid reporter. Whether we are writing magazine pieces, screenplays, memoirs, personal essays, or fiction (especially historical and crime novels), we need to be voracious fact-gatherers and astute observers, weaving credible research, colorful quotes, and deft descriptions into our tales. We must know how to define “facts” and to understand the perils of “composite characters” and “unattributed quotes.” Beyond that, we need to know how to gather the startling details that make a narrative bristle. If you’re writing a detective thriller, you’ll need to get your guns straight; you’ll have to confirm which flowers were blooming in Beijing for that National Geographic piece. If you are a memoirist, what’s the way to recreate scenes and dialogue without losing credibility? Even for a short story about an archeologist digging up obsidian, you’ll need to make sure you know about chipping sites. Finally, you need to understand some basic ethical codes of journalists, sparing you typical embarrassments of the novice. Through practice interviews, skill-building exercises, guests lecturers from the Grotto, and one dramatic surprise, this workshop will get you thinking like a journalist, interviewing like Charlie Rose, and collecting fool-proof material that will impress not only your editor but your readers.

Constance Hale has written hundreds of newspaper articles, scores of magazine pieces, and four books. On top of that, she has edited countless journalists, from newbies to grizzled veterans. A former editor at Wired, Health, and the San Francisco Examiner, her work has appeared in those publications as well as in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Afar, The Atlantic, and Smithsonian. Her irreverent books on language are used in writing classes around the world, as is her eight-part Draft series at the New York Times’ Opinionator. She covers writing and the writing life at and is a founder of The Prose Doctors ( She runs a major conference at UC Berkeley on narrative journalism.


Number of sessions: 6

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Dates: Tuesdays, July 12, 19, 26; Aug. 2, 9, 16

Course fee: $320



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