Reading List: Sharpen your editing skills,
then sharpen them some more
Editor’s Note: AIR is looking for candidates interested in becoming better editors through our Better Edit Fellowship—brought to you in partnership with PRNDI, the Public Radio News Directors Incorporated. Read on for contributing writer Emily Boghossian’s best picks for learning how to work the editing game, then apply to Better Edit! The deadline to submit is this Friday, July 14, at 5 p.m. PT.
Listen to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first cut of “My Shot,” and you’ll hear it in the first few bars. Editing matters.
Any audio producer who has gone back and forth with a good editor knows that “most things that are great get great through editing,” (Ira Glass, Longform). But not every producer has access to a strong editor. Lately, the “good editor” is becoming more and more of a unicorn—high in demand and, according to NPR Training’s Alison MacAdam, low in supply.
And while we need to correct the industry-wide shortage by building clearer, more inclusive pipelines for editors, maybe this dearth is an opportunity for producers to sharpen their knives. If great storytelling = great editing, we should all strive to be better editors.
So, this week we are listening to the editors in our lives. Here's a list of resources guaranteed to grow your toolkit. Now, go forth and slash.
Editing from the get-go:
Front-end editing: The "secret ingredient" of great audio storytelling | Andrea De Leon for NPR Training
Before you pack your TASCAM and hit the road, ask yourself: What introduction do you hear in your head? How could this story unfold? Who is the main character?
Structuring your story:
How to Construct a Compelling Story | Brian Reed for The Conference
Action. Reflection. Stakes. S-Town's Brian Reed breaks down good storytelling by relaying the most boring story he can think of. Additional reading from the audio canon: Ira Glass explains storytelling in four parts.
Lessons from Making a Historical Documentary | Alex Lewis (Localore '15) and Yowei Shaw (New Voice '11) for Transom.org
Structuring a longer-form documentary? Find macro and mini story structures. Alex Lewis and Yowei Shaw’s first-ever historical doc yields all kinds of useful tips. Bonus: Insights on mixing via Jeff Towne.