Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Crevasse: Writing at its Best

Kevin Vaughan, award-winning journalist for the Rocky Mountain News, was recently featured in the paper for his 5 part series, The Crevasse, which chronicled the tragic expedition of two Colorado climbers, Jim Davidson and Mike Price, to Alaska's Mount Rainier. Earlier this year, Kevin was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for a similar type of story he did in 2007, The Crossing, about Colorado's deadliest school bus accident.

I just finished reading the Crevasse and I found it to be an amazing piece of writing. There were many elements to the story, making it very complex, but Kevin wove everything together seamlessly, making it a compelling read.

A few months ago in my blog, In The Beginning, I talked about the importance of getting your reader hooked right away by starting, in media res or in the middle of. Kevin does that brilliantly with the beginning of The Crevasse:

"Jim plunges into the darkness of the crevasse in a spray of ice and snow. The fall is sudden, shocking. His body explodes with adrenaline, his mind calculates furiously. Ten feet. Twenty feet. I'm going to fast...Thirty feet. Something's wrong."

We are immediately brought into the action and we want to find out what happens. We know what happens to Mike, but we are left hanging as to Jim's fate. But we don't get to find out right away. Kevin goes back to weave in history about the two climbers. He gets us to care about these men, so by the time he comes back to the accident, we are emotionally invested and now we need to know the outcome.

I knew after I started reading, I was in it till the end. I felt like I was strapped on a ride and I wasn't getting off until it was over. There were high moments, low moments and a moment at the end when it all came to a slow-perfect stop, causing me to sit there, still "strapped in"-- letting all the events and emotions wash over me, while the phrase "life is a gift" resonated in my mind.

As writers, we all hope our words will have an impact on those who read them. Whether it is to make the reader laugh, cry, learn, reflect, take action--we hope the reader will somehow be changed after reading our work. I truly believe, Kevin has achieved this with The Crevasse-this story and its powerful lessons, will stay with me forever.

Click here to read The Crevasse.

Happy Reading!
Watch for my next blog which will be an interview with journalist Kevin Vaughan.

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