Great nonfiction writing is about passion. Passion for an idea both wonderful and practical. Passion for reportage. Passion for storytelling through plot and rhythm and pace. Passion for writing without compromise of the facts. All easy to say but elusive to execute. In examining the craft of nonfiction and its essential components, there will be concentration on writing assignments and workshopping. We will examine the work of authors such as Truman Capote, Michael Lewis, Katharine Boo, John McPhee and JR Moehringer. We will also examine some of my own books, such as Friday Night Lights, A Prayer for the City, and Father’s Day, as well as magazine pieces from Vanity Fair, for candid discussions on what the author was precisely trying to do and whether it was achieved. Each writing assignment will be roughly a thousand words. A more comprehensive piece will be required at the end of the semester (the length is up to students since if you learn anything, it is that long is not necessarily better). The workload is reasonable, but keep in mind that quality is far more important than quantity. One great piece is worth five mediocre and rushed ones.
This is a course for students who love the written word and may be considering a career in nonfiction writing. The course will meet Thursdays 4:30-7:30p and Fridays 2-5pm on the following days: September 1 and 2, September 15 and 16, September 29 and 30, October 13 and 14, October 27 and 28, November 10 and 11, and December 1 and 2. For periods of three hours each during the semester, I will be available for one-on-one discussions: November 17 and 18, and December 8 and 9. I will also be available at any time by Skype and email. A nonfiction writing sample of any type (narrative, essay, personal) is required for acceptance into the class. Students must also be willing to do reportage. Please send your writing samples to Mingo Reynolds firstname.lastname@example.org.