"I started pitching this story and found that no one was interested. I spent months just sending out emails. The thing that stayed with me most is that I went to an editor at a magazine that basically told me verbatim, ‘If you can repitch this and tell me, in the Hollywood version of this story, who would Julia Roberts play, then I would consider it.’ That was definitely the low moment of my journalistic career. I realized that people need a character to care about. And without that, you’re just not going to get very far in a longform piece. You had to have actual human beings that people can invest in. People don’t really care about issues so much as they care about the stories and the characters that bring those issues to life."
Sarah Stillman, quoted in my BuzzFeed piece “19 Writing Tips From Writers And Editors For The New Yorker”
Listen to a full Q&A with Stillman over at the Longform podcast.