I met Keith when he was hired by The Oregonian to be the sports editor.

But I was familiar with his work.

He is a wonderful narrative writer who finds hidden stories and characters, and then weaves a tale that resonates with readers. During his time here ,he suggested I write about my experience with Bill Walton.

I’ll post that story next week.

But for now, let’s take a look at Keith’s story.

If possible, I’d like him to comment on how he found, reported and structured the story.

As I said my goal is to build a community of writers.

Keith is now back at the Orange County Register where he is a reporter.

Keith, it was all to brief!


Tom Hallman Jr.

Here is the link to his story.



  1. Keith Sharon says:

    Thanks so much for posting, Tom. I cover the city of Huntington Beach, and at a council meeting, in the wee hours, one of the council members mentioned that he was trying to help a woman who had never met her father. The councilmen began to cry as he briefly mentioned that the father was killed during WWII. When I saw that emotion, I knew I had a story. I was lucky the daughter had kept so much memorabilia from her father’s life. Thanks again for posting, Tom. A web community of writers is a great idea.

  2. Tom says:

    A couple things to notice here — especially for young reporters who want to make the transition from news to features and then to narrative.

    In “the wee hours.”

    You never know when or where you will stumble over a story.

    “I saw that emotion”

    Keith — as he puts it — knew he had a story.

    Great job, Keith

  3. Nancy Ankcorn says:

    Like a spare Robert Frost poem, this story gave me as much off the page as the words on it. I thought about the young Cherokee bride bearing her child without her husband. How much fear she must have conquered through the birth and tending a newborn.

    Why wasn’t his name etched in granite sooner? Surely there had been others.

    The box of letters. How many times did they move from house to house with someone questioning ‘why hold on to these?’ only to check themselves. They were important.

    Thanks for the story. I feel like the writer brought such nobility to this man’s short life, and I was glad to “know” him.

  4. Casey Parks says:

    Great idea, Tom! I’ll be looking out for more!

  5. Andrew Nelson says:

    There were a few cliffhangers in the story. It’s a part of the craft I’m weakest. Roy Peter Clark talks about leaving gold coins along the story path to encourage the readers to find the next one.

    For example, the story of the guy finding the Life magazine in the yard sale. How the author wrote about it left me wondering what happens next.

    Great job. Great story.

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