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Journalistic Storytelling

ENGL 158.301
instructor(s):
M 2-5:00
fulfills requirements:
Elective of the Standard Major

The key issue: “How does the writer hook the reader, and how does the writer keep that reader hooked to the end?” English 158 is about mastering the mechanics of effective nonfiction narrative storytelling. Imagine that you are writing general-interest feature articles for a general-interest publication or website: What are the best ways to put the reader into your story? What are the elements that make a piece work? What are the elements of a good opening? When is it better to “show” as opposed to “tell”? When is it best to use first, second or third person? When is it best for the writer to use your own voice—or keep that voice at a distance? When is it best to use humor, and when to avoid it? When is it best to use anecdotes and scenes—both of which are staples of narrative storytelling? What are the “universal” themes that exist between the lines? We’ll work in different genres: observational pieces, profiles, personal pieces, long-form third-person pieces—and guest professionals will visit to share their expertise. An editor of mine used to say, “Good writing can be nurtured, cultivated, and encouraged.” That’s what I try to do. And I always say, “Journalistic writing is the most fun you can have working hard, and the hardest work you can do while having fun.”