Episode 140

The Lessons We Can Learn From True Crime Stories

I’ve just finished speaking at a live event when one of the attendees approaches me and asks:

“Was your whole story about the moped accident true?”

“Yes,” I reply.

“All of it?” he asks incredulously. “Everything you did to get back on the softball mound as a pitcher? The part about using martial arts to get your balance back? And you completely lost your sense of taste and smell?”

I affirm that yes, all of it is true. See, he’d been thinking that I made these things up just to enliven my story. 

I tell him, “Our true stories can often be way better than fiction.” When we look back on our lives, we may discover moments more heroic than any we could have made up.

And whether or not the story you’re sharing is true or fiction, it’s the truth within the story that helps our audience learn, gain perspective, and make different choices than they otherwise would’ve made.

And that leads me to my special guest today, Wendy Whitman. Wendy is an author and award-winning expert on murder crimes in America. In this episode of the Storytelling School Podcast, she’s here to dig into the world of story through the lens of crime and answer questions like:

How do you approach dry subjects (like legal cases) and craft them for better audience engagement? What toll does it take on you to cover murder crimes day in and day out? And how is storytelling different for a TV-viewing audience versus a book-reading one?

What you will learn in this episode:

  • How to approach telling a true crime story with care 
  • What you can do to help prevent yourself from having your story cut short
  • Why we are captivated by true crime stories

Who is Wendy Whitman?

Wendy Whitman is an author and expert on the subject of murder in the U.S. She worked for comedians Lily Tomlin and George Carlin before attending Boston University School of Law. After graduating from law school, she embarked on what turned out to be a 20-year career in television covering crime. Fifteen of those years were spent as an executive producer for Court TV. Then Wendy spent another few years on HLN for the Nancy Grace show, where she appeared on air as a producer/reporter covering almost every major high-profile murder case in the country.

During her tenure at Court TV, she received three Telly Awards and two GLAAD nominations. Since turning her attention to writing, she has published two crime thriller novels: Premonition and its sequel Retribution, which was released on July 25, 2023.

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