Writing Prompt 121
Has the federal government shutdown affected you?
Today marks the fourteenth day of the federal government shut down. Despite ongoing discussions between the heads of the Senate and the House of Representatives, officials have not been able to come to an agreement.
Reports claim that if the leaders do not agree to terms by this Thursday, the United States will face dire consequences, including defaulting on loans that could possibly lead to recession. With so much discussion of the big-picture effects of the shutdown, little attention, if any, has been paid to the people who have suffered the most—the furloughed workers.
Whether you work for the federal government or not, perhaps you depend on essential government services to help you or your family. Perhaps you were counting on participating in recreational and family-friendly state and federal programs. No matter what your position or situation, perhaps you may have been impacted by the shutdown. Today’s prompt addresses that possibility.
Has the shutdown affected you at all? When responding to this prompt, be sure to include relevant details including whether you or your spouse work for the federal government or whether you depend on federal services. Remember to focus on the things we have discussed recently, including a challenge to strip emotion out of writing. A true challenge to do that with political issues, I know.
Nonfiction Writing: Descriptive
The descriptive form of nonfiction writing is perhaps the most fun of all. It involves, as you may have guessed, an emphasis on expanding the explanations about people, places, and things. Anyone can write about the White House being the place where the president lives, for example, but it takes a true dedicated nonfiction writer to add rich details explaining more about the White House.
There are several interesting ways of adding descriptions to your writing. If you want to keep things neutral, a good option is to tackle business profiles and historical accounts, for example. In the business world, there are always two stories at every nonfiction writer’s disposal—the story about the business itself and the one about the person behind the business. There has to be a reason why a specific business exists. Do you know the story? That’s like a historical account of a business.
You can also move forward by asking questions of the business owner to find out what is happening currently and what the plans are for the future. Both of those options focus on the business itself. People always love human-interest stories, though, and it is also a valid option to pursue the story behind the business by focusing on the owner.
One source I recommend to inspire nonfiction writers for good business profiles is the series of Business Journals, which is published in major and metropolitan cities throughout the United States. As a general rule, I always prefer print versus digital newspapers because I find the quality of writing in print newspapers to be much better. Two other great sources to study business profiles are Business Week and Inc. Magazine.
Historical accounts are very different than business profiles. Business profiles tend to focus on information that is current, while historical accounts of people, places, and things take on a picturesque quality that is lovely to read as it is to compose. Writing a historical account of something involves a great deal of research, but it does not have to be as dry and exacting as strict research-based writing.
An intriguing, if underused method of conducting research on historical events is by interviewing people who specialize in retelling or recounting history. These people might be referred to as tour guides, but in modern times, the term docent or interpreter is more frequently used. These folks who study history and teach others about it are generally located in places that feature authentic replicas of things found many years ago. Incorporating elements of living history into a historical account is a great way to spice up the writing.
Next time, we’ll talk about a few other examples of descriptive nonfiction writing.
It’s almost time for National Nonfiction Writing Month. Are you ready to take the challenge?
Amanda M. Socci is the creator of the 10-month training program for Write Nonfiction in November called “I Know I Can” WNFIN. The first two blog posts of the series explain more about this program and its benefits.
Amanda refers to herself as the Creative Idea Gal because she comes up with original ideas for herself and others. Based in Alexandria, VA, she is a devoted mother of two and a hopeless fanatic of all things creative. Connect with Amanda on Google+ or Twitter.