3 GREAT STORIES: Starring three favorite storytellers

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

A sweet surprise awaits you (9/22/15, 99% Invisible): The pieces in this week’s edition of “3 Great Stories” have a common strength: they all lead the audience on a journey.

Roman Mars and his team at 99% Invisible have practically perfected this structure, at least in podcast form. I have written about 99% Invisible so many times I have little left to say, but as long as Mars keeps producing exquisite episodes like this, I will continue to shout him out.

I don’t want to spoil this journey, but as you listen, appreciate the narrative build: from an innocuous story about Powerball to the rise of the fortune cookie to its surprising, serious, and historic background. Every few minutes brings a new twist, constantly rewarding and informing the attentive listener.

Across the USA by train for just $213 (9/15/15, dereklow.co): The journey in this next story is literal.

Derek Low graced this space nearly two years ago when he recalled his trip to Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni salt flats, a post that catalyzed my own journey to the extraordinary area. He writes infrequently on his self-produced web site, but he has a way of spinning travelogues in an engaging way.

Witness this article, where Low explains how he traveled across the country for less than $500 by taking Amtrak. He walks the reader through his efforts and, perhaps more importantly, showcases his rewards: a slew of photos from beautiful vistas in every time zone. By the end, you might just subscribe to his line of thinking.

“If you want to see tourist America,” Low writes, “rent a Cadillac, get on Route 66 and stop off at a few cutesy diners and motels. If you want to see the real America in all its spectacular, crazy, kooky glory, get on the train.”

Sunken GoPro camera surfaces a year later with a story (9/22/15, KARE-TV): This final story combines literal and emotional journeys into one absolute beauty of a piece.

The literal journey involves a GoPro camera, which slipped off the head of its owner and down to the bottom of Minnesota’s Temperance River. The camera was lost forever … or would have been if not for a snorkeler who found it a year later.

The emotional journey takes place with the audience, as we follow the building and multi-layered narrative weaved by KARE-TV reporter extraordinaire Boyd Huppert. Combined with some creative and picturesque photography from Rob Collett, Huppert’s words and story structure provide captivation at nearly every turn.

Much like the 99% Invisible podcast above, I do not want to reveal too much about what happens in this story. I would much prefer you to watch … and let Huppert do the revealing.

Have a suggestion for “3 Great Stories of the Week”? E-mail me at matt@tellingthestoryblog.com.

Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at matt@tellingthestoryblog.com. You can also follow Matt on Facebook and Twitter.

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