Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing by others Writing tips

Essays and Lazy Writing

Essays pretending to be reporting waste the reader’s time. With this style you must read several hundred words before finding out what the author is writing about. Rather than quickly defining a subject, essays disguised as reporting languidly and leisurely give out the facts. It seems most prevalent in sports writing but it is everywhere today. Now that the Olympics are here, essay writing is in full force.

Here’s one two paragraph example:

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — By my calculation, we are roughly 57.34 percent of the way through these Olympics, which means it’s time for me to get on the wrong bus. But that’s OK, because I knew that wherever I go, an American will finish fifth. If we have learned anything about these Olympics, it’s that an American always finishes fifth.

Have you seen the medal count lately? As of this writing, the U.S. is in sixth place, one spot behind Russia, which isn’t even officially here. I was pretty fired up about that. That’s like losing a bar bet to an empty stool. But then I realized the U.S. can catch Russia without doing anything at all, thanks to the Russian curling scandal.

The writer is in love with his own writing and wants to be part of the story. No. Quickly answer the five “W’s” and the “H. Plenty of time to set a scene after addressing the fundamentals. I consider this essay style lazy and disrespectful journalism, especially when reporters like these are obviously capable of writing well and could easily be forthright.

Another example:

The Olympics you see on NBC are not the same as the Olympics that unfold in the mountains and ice rinks of South Korea. NBC tries to distill dozens of events into compelling television for a mass audience. In person, all you see is one event at a time, and you often don’t know if anybody is watching back home. Minutes earlier, Kenworthy had kissed boyfriend Matthew Wilkas at the bottom of the slopestyle course, unaware that NBC would broadcast it, causing a minor commotion in the States.

In attempting to cover the color of the games, sports reporters wander away from facts and finality. Essay writing has its place as not everything is a box score. A writer working as a reporter, however, must always be conscious of the reader’s time, their need to know, and our duty to keep out of the story.

Thoughts on writing UC Berkeley Extension Workshop Uncategorized Writing tips

Now I Get It — Understanding Creative Nonfiction

When I signed up for my Creative Nonfiction Workshop (internal link) I did not know writing by that name was a genre. It is. As today’s kids would say, “It’s a thing.”

I thought creative nonfiction a term to describe more creative and inventive ways to write nonfiction. That it could apply to newspaper reports, a legal brief, or an academic paper. To the contrary, it’s much more limited.

Check out Wikipedia’s definition below. The study of creative nonfiction really can’t help me with what I had in mind. Using literary styles and techniques when writing 500 word newspaper articles isn’t possible. The law has a stifling language and delivery all its own. And academic papers need to be written like every other academic paper.

Creative nonfiction comes into its own in medium to long form essays. When we are writing to entertain and enlighten with our particular writing style. It’s not there to deliver a clear message in as few words as possible. Creative nonfiction is out for a stroll, not for a run.

Creative nonfiction lends itself particularly well to personal essays and memoirs. It certainly doesn’t help with brief pieces, which is what I do most of. But it’s a definite style, it offers a new writing market and that should intrigue any writer.

“Creative nonfiction (also known as literary nonfiction or narrative nonfiction) is a genre of writing that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives. Creative nonfiction contrasts with other nonfiction, such as academic or technical writing or journalism, which is also rooted in accurate fact, but is not written to entertain based on writing style or florid prose. As a genre, creative nonfiction is still relatively young, and is only beginning to be scrutinized with the same critical analysis given to fiction and poetry.” Wikipedia (external link)

There’s even a magazine devoted to it: (external link)

I welcome your thoughts.