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April 28, 2006

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On the subject of topics I was going to ask a question about making it easier to transcribe interviews. I did an hour long interview this week and it took me forever to transcribe it and go through my notes. I was wondering if there is a better way to deal with the mass amounts of information that we are going to get from spending days immersed in our subjects lives. I have a feeling that I will end up dropping off the world trying to put this information together. If anyone has any ideas let me know. It will do wonders for my sanity.

You mean other than using a tape recorder?

I know exactly what you mean. I interviewed a subject for more than two hours, and he refused having it recorded. So, I ended up writing a list of the major questions I wanted to ask and spacing them about, every five or six inches or so, over however many pages. Any time he'd segue into another topic after I had asked on question, I'd asterisk it and place it at the bottom of the space I had allotted for the original question. Any questions I had thought of myself in response during the interview were filled in the relative space of the question that led me to ask the second question in the first place (ack, confusing. you still with me?)

It's all about layout, and thinking ahead about how you're going to account for spontaneous commentary or extra information. Even with this system, I found myself scribbling on the back of my questionaire printout, along the margins, and so on. There were arrows all over the place. But it was a hell of a lot better, I imagine, than walking in with a blank notebook.

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