4/8 – Writing Outside The Familiar

Today’s warm up: we’re going to talk about this graphic. It’s from a spoofy kind of article, but the infographic is good enough to fuel a Friday discussion, I think. My hope is that we’ll see some interesting trends. We’ll also look at the types of non-fiction you’ve already written a LOT  vs. the types of non-fiction you haven’t…

types-of-nonfiction-6.jpg

Today’s experiment: I’d like to ask you to choose one of the types of NARRATIVE non-fiction (so not how-to guides or users manuals or journalism pieces) on this chart and give it a whirl. I suspect food writing (in the article, skip to “Enter Jeanette”) and/or travel writing will be most new, but there may be lots of other choices that appeal to you.

You can click on the spoof article that accompanies this infographic if you want a very general (and maybe silly) explanation for what a particular type of writing is. But if it’s TOTALLY new, try googling it to see what definitions/advice is out there and then choosing a mentor text (see Weekend Homework below) to help guide you.

One type that’s NOT on the chart is the LYRIC ESSAY. This is an essay that uses tight, poetic language to reflect on a particular theme. Yesterday’s imitation of “Fat Studies” was an invitation to write a non-linear lyric essay, where there are a variety of short micro-essays related to each other because of a common subject or theme. The writers also use riff, motif, and juxtaposition to tie the pieces together. It’s kind of like a collage with words.

Weekend homework: I’d like to ask you to choose ONE piece of creative non-fiction from the list of journals I’ve provided. Just one. Make sure it’s one you love. I love “Fat Studies,” so I’m offering copies of it here in case you need it.

I want you to annotate the non fiction you chose as a mentor text, looking for these things:

  • What are your green lines? Why?
  • How does this writer “show” rather than “tell?” Is it effective? Why or why not?
  • Where do you see this writer using motif, riff, or juxtaposition?
  • Where do you guess this writer is slanting the truth or approximating it versus giving all the “facts?” Why do they do it that way? Is it effective? Why or why not?
  • What type of form is this writer using? Do you think it’s effective? Why or why not? In class, we looked at non-fiction via poetry, letters, dictionary definitions, and the lyric essay (a series of poetic reflections around a particular concept or idea). But there are lots of others, as we saw in the warm up today.
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