What’s that in Gay Talese’s pocket?

Frank Sinatra had a cold and Gay Talese had a story. But only after he had an outline.

Two weeks ago Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop shared his outlining strategies with the blog. Successful narrative journalism is often the result of a dedicated outline that organizes ideas.

This was true, even in the 1960s.

In reference to Bishop’s lessons on outlining, the New York Times’ Jim Luttrell passed along these photos. They show Talese’s outline for his famous Esquire piece, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, widely considered one of the greatest profiles ever written.

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Talese, a Times alum, once visited some members of the newspaper and talked about his craft.

“He also showed us some of the notes he took while reporting,” Luttrell said. “He cuts up cardboard from new shirts because they fit neatly in the inside pocket of his suit jacket.”

A smart note-taking process must have been essential for Talese, whose story on Sinatra is transcendent in part because it was filled with observations rather than interviews.

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