Find Your Donkey

At W5 we’re always looking for ways to make our reporting and deliverables meaningful to our clients. We make films, create graphics, and experiment with forms for printed work, but at the core is clear, concise writing that tells a story.

This is hard. Problems can be complex, issues not easy to explain.

But I recently came across some sage and memorable advice on telling stories.

Lawrence Wright is the author of two of the best non-fiction works of the past decade, “The Looming Tower,” and “Going Clear.”

His advice on a recent Longform podcast recorded at SXSW was to find your “donkey.”  For Wright, this is the person that by force of their personality and context within a situation can help deliver the message and make the reader care.

“A donkey is a very useful beast of burden and it can carry a lot of information on its back. It will take the reader into the world that he may not understand or may not have thought he cared about until you have this donkey.”

I love this as a mechanism for telling a story. It feels human and starts from a place of empathy for both the subject and reader.

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