Reflection: Nonfiction Writing

My ability to write in the nonfiction genre–whether it’s a creative flash piece, a commentary, or a fieldwork project–has improved greatly in the past few months. Studying how both famous authors (such as George Orwell and Tom Wolfe) and lesser known authors (such as Lillian Ross and Michael Winerip), use literary techniques to heighten their observations and research has allowed me to experiment and develop my own creative voice.

Using these literary techniques and writing nonfiction outside of an academic tone and purpose–especially during my senior year–has been both refreshing and useful. I’ve enjoyed writing for purposes that weren’t tied to proving a clever–but ultimately useless and distorted–thesis or being tethered to the tangential ideas or biases of a GSI in order to obtain a good grade. Instead, focusing on writing in a meaningful and effective manner–along with the readings, exercises, and assignments demonstrating this–has allowed me to further practice writing that has greater longevity and usefulness (for both creative and non-creative purposes): communicating in an accessible manner, eschewing jargon and obscurity, and using literary techniques to emphasize the truth of experiences or details.

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Light Show

“You should get a light show!” she says as the blaring music fills the bar room and bright strobe lights reflect off of the floor.

“Huh?” I replied completely perplexed, with one drink in my system. “What’s a light show?” She laughs and points me toward this girl wearing white gloves with bright, multi-colored neon lights flashing continuously in an unpredictable pattern.

I’m entranced. “It’s even better when you’ve taken something to enhance it,” my friend tells me.

The white-gloved girl waves her Christmas-lighted hands in quick circles and lines and unnameable polygons in front of my soon-to-be deejaying friend’s face. Her jubilee hands move in and out all around his face, coming within millimeters of his eyes and skin.

An example of a glove light show.

Logic tells me it’s only hands, lights, and random gestures. But I’m hypnotized. This light show . . . I want to experience.
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Playwriting: Minimalist Strategy

The semester is winding down and with it comes the end of my first playwriting class, which also means public readings of some scenes that students have written.

As the deadline for a finished play and the staging of scenesĀ  approaches, and I look back on the experience, I’m thrilled that my writing strategy paid off. The informal public reading is the class’s final project in which we pick out a bit from our play to be read by actors. This requirement for finding our own actors was stated earlier in the semester by our professor, who also told us that we would be in charge of directing them–providing the necessary input to let actors know how to read and perform the scene. With this information, I hatched the idea to write in a minimalistic style and develop a play that would appeal to an actor’s creative and collaborative instincts. Continue reading

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