In a room filled with budding journalists, best-selling authors, respected faculty and a few Pulitzer Prize winners, Rick Bragg distilled the art of good writing down to coloring in a coloring book.
“You don’t want to go outside the lines. That’s exaggeration and melodrama.” he said in his distinctive Southern drawl.
“Be vivid and colorful as is true—not as you can be, but as is true.”
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist shared his wisdom during one of several speeches given during last weekend’s Storytellers’ Summit, a three-day event held by UF’s College of Journalism and Communications.
More than 200 students, professionals and local residents attended the summit, which also featured talks by noted journalists Lane DeGregory, Michael Connelly, David Finkel, Liz Balmaseda and Thomas French.
Each speaker exuded a style as unique as his or her writing. Where Bragg and DeGregory would often rouse the audience into laughter, Finkel spoke somberly of his time with soldiers in Iraq researching for his book, “The Good Soldiers.”
Most of the writers explained why they chose a career in writing and why they kept with it.
“I like writing about characters when the chips are down and the stakes are high because I’m trying to find out about myself,” Connelly said.
All the professionals offered their time for no compensation.
“These are some of the best journalists of the last 20 years,” said jouralism department chair William McKeen, who was one of the event organizers and lectured during the summit's biography session.
McKeen collaborated with Mike Foley, master lecturer and assistant dean for Student Services, and Dori Faust, a program assistant.
Surveying the Gannett Auditorium at the conclusion of the summit Sunday afternoon, Foley said he was very pleased with the turnout and very exhausted.
“Tomorrow, I write thank-you letters,” he said.