How to Write Like James Comey

Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty

Former FBI executive James Comey’s testimony was expelled yesterday in created form forward of his conference today. It’s a impersonal recounting of a few conversations he had with a president, so we wouldn’t design it to be an interesting read. But it’s well-crafted: only a right volume of detail, only a right volume of stage setting. Ever need to tell a story? Use these tips to tell it like James Comey.

Keep Your Introduction Short

Comey could have spent hundreds of difference describing since he’s testifying and how he prepared his statement. Nobody cares. So he kept it brief and sweet:

Tells we all we need to know, right? When people are reading (or listening to) your introduction, they’re fervent to get to a good stuff, so it’s not a good time to explain credentials information. Comey does have credentials to deliver—when and since he started gripping annals of a conversations, for example—but he drops it into applicable points of a story as he’s revelation it.

Write in Scenes

A review is some-more than only dialogue. Told well, it’s a scene. “When we set out to qualification a nonfiction story, it doesn’t harm to cruise of yourself as a playwright,” editor and letter manager Jack Hart writes in Storycraft. “You must, after all, emanate a stage…you can people it with characters. Then, with a snap of your fingers, a characters can breathe, move, act.”


Comey describes 5 conversations, and for each, he sets a scene. We know where they take place, when they take place, and what a mood was in a room. Here’s how he set a stage for a Jan 27 dinner:

The indicate isn’t just to entertain—the sum competence finish adult being essential for joining this story to other events and people. Does Trump have a robe of startling people with dinners alone? Do a Navy stewards have a story of their possess to tell? In a novel, these sum would expected bond with other tools of a story. Real life is messier, though we get a clarity from reading Comey’s request that he is laying a grounds for destiny scenes that competence or competence not surface. Take this fact from an Oval Office meeting:

What’s a stress of a doorway by a grandfather clock? Maybe it’s to lope others’ memories: oh yeah, we remember being in a throng watchful outward that door. Maybe there’s another reason he enclosed that detail, and we don’t know it yet. All we know is, “The Door by a Grandfather Clock” sounds like a book we would totally read.

Expand and Contract Time

The events Comey describes camber several months, and they embody what contingency have been extensive meetings, briefings, and dinners. Comey skips over a yawn-inducing and/or personal parts, though slows down for a clever play-by-play of a critical stuff.


In that Green Room dinner, Comey describes a crux of a review rather than digest it line by line; a calm is important, though he doesn’t need to tell us each word. As a questions get some-more and some-more inappropriate—Comey says he is “uneasy”—the revelation slows down. And afterwards we get to this moment:

He doesn’t contend yes, he doesn’t contend no, he doesn’t even curtsy or make a face. That’s important, since a cabinet will wish to know how he answered a question. But it also conveys how moving a impulse was. And it shows that Donald Trump, a male so fervent to speak that he ceaselessly interrupts himself, brought a review to a halt.

Have a Purpose for Your Writing

“Build your work around a pivotal question,” advises Roy Peter Clark in his list of Quick 50 Writing Tools. In this case, a doubt in a atmosphere is Did a President rivet in deterrent of justice? It’s not Comey’s doubt to answer; legally, this is for others to decide. But he seems to have selected a details, and set a scenes, to yield a required information to answer that question.


In a novel, or an essay, we competence design a author to assistance us know a answer to a pivotal question. “Help readers tighten a round of meaning,” Clark writes. That won’t start here, and it’s not suitable in each form of novel either. Sometimes a purpose of a poem, for example, is to give a reader something to coddle over. So cruise what a finale of your story is, and either it will start on a page. And any time we cruise a reader’s seductiveness competence be flagging, try to work in a word “hookers in Russia.”

Short URL:

Posted by on Jun 8 2017. Filed under Gadgets. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Photo Gallery

Log in | Designed by hitechnews