J242 Renegades, Underdogs, Madmen: The magazine profile

Profiles are a remarkably versatile form: an open door for exploring a vast range of subjects, from the secret guilt of a paid climate change denier, to the bizarre afterlife of Carrot Top, to the unique super-taster abilities of a chef with Asperger’s. They’re also marketable – editors love them – and unusually fun. So how do you, the ordinary writer without Hollywood connections, figure out which of the 7 billion other people on the planet are worth profiling? What few people realize is that profiles also have a secret taxonomy that can be decoded, along with the structures and drivers that power each type of story. Because profiles don’t always have an obvious plot, they also require a different strategy in order to build interest and sustain momentum. We’ll take a close look at how to do this, starting with the critical choice of who to write about. (As Ira Glass once observed, “It’s true that everybody has a story to tell. But most of those stories aren’t very interesting.”) Connecting to, but remaining independent from, the person you’re writing about can also be tricky, both personally and ethically – an issue we’ll discuss as it relates to your own work. We’ll also talk with writers from the New York Times Magazine, California Sunday, Rolling Stone etc, to hear about their process and strategies (in both writing and career) .



Time:  Th 2:00-5:00

Location:  209 North Gate (Greenhouse)

Class Number:  29362

Section:  001

Units:  3

Length:  15 weeks

Course Material Fee:  None

Enroll Limit:  

Restrictions & Prerequisites