Podcast

Putting the Pieces Together: 5 Questions for Michael Hall

Writing big, long stories isn’t that hard—you just have to learn how to start small and put together shorter pieces into something greater than the sum of its parts.” –Michael Hall

Michael Hall writes about criminals, musicians, the law, and barbecue. He wrote for various publications, including Trouser Press, Third Coast Magazine, the Austin American-Statesman, and the Austin Chronicle. In 1997, he joined Texas Monthly, where he has won two Texas Gavel Awards from the State Bar of Texas and four Stephen Philbin Awards from the Dallas Bar Association. He was named Writer of the Year at the City and Regional Magazine Awards in 2015. His stories have appeared in The Best American Magazine Writing, The Best American Sports Writing, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Da Capo’s Best Music Writing, the New York Times, and Men’s Journal.

On Wednesday, May 1st, Michael Hall is teaching an online class for the WLT called “Putting the Pieces Together: Information Gathering and Structure in Narrative Nonfiction.” In this class, you’ll learn how to conduct interviews and how to break down words and ideas in order to put them into a structure that makes sense.

Here’s what Michael shared with us about his process and his upcoming class:


Scribe: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you write? How did you come to writing?

Michael Hall: I’m a journalist and staff writer at Texas Monthly. I’ve been there for 26 years—before that I was a freelancer and I worked at various newspapers and magazines. I mostly write stories about crime, the law, and music. And strange people. And criminals. And regular people who are considered criminals.

Scribe: In your own work, how do you approach overcoming the challenges that come with writing, be it writer’s block or craft or business-related challenges?

MH: When I have a problem with a story—usually the issue is how to put it togetherI go for a bike ride or a walk and try to come up with a different way of viewing it.

Scribe: Has there been a moment of epiphany in terms of your work, when you thought, “This is it! Now I know what I’m doing?” How long did that feeling last?

MH: I usually get to that point on a story—when I realize how to structure it and put it all together. The feeling lasts until I have to put together the next story.

Scribe: What piece of advice do you find yourself giving to writers again and again?

MH: Good writing is good thinking. Think it out first, then start typing.

Scribe: What is one thing that people will take away from this class?

MH: Writing big, long stories isn’t that hard—you just have to learn how to start small and put together shorter pieces into something greater than the sum of its parts.

Thanks, Michael!

Click here to learn more about Michael Hall’s upcoming class.

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