Writing Prompt 127
What do you think makes people vie for presidential bids?
Do you remember Paul Ryan? Bob Barr? Ralph Nader? Howard Dean? Carol Moseley Braun? Elizabeth Dole? Bill Bradley? These people all ran for president within the last thirteen years. Do you remember the backgrounds of the colorful people who had to raise a lot of money and subsequently spend it on campaign efforts?
How do you think the presidential candidates proceeded with their bids to become the next president of the United States? Do you think they were able to work at their regular jobs while campaigning? Travel is required in campaigning, right? And how about a campaign manager? What important roles did the campaign manager play in ensuring the success of presidential candidates?
There are many fascinating questions involving the world of presidential campaigning. Today’s prompt encourages nonfiction writers to do some background reading and become familiar with the process of running for the presidency. The process itself is often overlooked because the media loves to sensationalize and turn everything into political battles. The human backstory, however, is often more interesting than the issue positions of the candidates.
Yes, I’m sure it would have been important to focus on John Kerry’s position on capital punishment while he was running for president. After all, it is critical for Americans to know how presidential nominees will handle issues once in office before they get elected, right? Let’s forget all of that for a minute. Today, I ask you to go against the current of what is popular and research the real reasons why people choose to run for the presidency.
I’m quite certain there are many hidden, valid reasons why people would go through the time commitment and hassle of running for president only to drop out of the race at the last minute. Learning about the psychology and the “whys” makes for an excellent writing prompt. It might even teach you some good lessons on the endurance of the human spirit.
Nonfiction Writing: Hybrid
In the last two prompts of our 10-month training program for nonfiction writers, I’d like to discuss the hybrid form of nonfiction writing. Anything that is hybrid is not pure because it is made of different components. All other styles of nonfiction writing that we’ve discussed, including narrative, expository, persuasive, descriptive, instructive, and analytical, are all pure forms of nonfiction writing.
A persuasive speech, for example, would not likely be descriptive because any extra descriptions would lessen the effect of the persuasion. Generally speaking, each form of nonfiction writing stands on its own. If the nonfiction writer were to mix the genres, it would lessen the intensity of the writing.
In some cases, however, it is perfectly acceptable, even encouraged to mix nonfiction writing styles. In those cases, identifying the writing as strictly narrative or instructive, for example, would not be useful. A better approach would be to identify mixed styles of nonfiction as hybrid nonfiction.
Creative nonfiction is perhaps the best known type of hybrid nonfiction. It involves elements of nonfiction that are written creatively, almost in a fictional way. This style of nonfiction makes heavy use of literary elements that your English teacher would be proud of. Though it sounds easy to get creative about real facts, this form of nonfiction writing is a challenge because it requires the writer to express vividly the reality of persons, places, or things without being superficial. In other words, creative nonfiction expects the writer to “show” without “telling.”
Another hybrid in nonfiction writing is in the field of advertising and marketing. Marketing is quite interesting. Anyone who wants to play the game must be willing to reinvent himself at the drop of a hat. Any writer who declares that he is perfectly fine the way he is and doesn’t need to change a thing about his marketing strategy should pack up his pens and computer and find a new profession. Marketing is not easy and it is not for thin-skinned people.
Nonfiction writers who want to write marketing copy for themselves should be comfortable experimenting because people are fickle. Their tastes change all the time and sometimes it’s hard to find logic in the reasons why people like or don’t like something. Whatever words you choose to write as part of your marketing copy, know that they go hand-in-hand with your marketing strategy. You can tell a narrative story, be persuasive, sound instructive, or even get analytical. No matter what you do or how you do it, always remember to be sincere. There is only one you. Be yourself.
The very last writing prompt of the “I Know I Can” WNFIN program is right around the corner. Can you believe it? Stay tuned.
National Nonfiction Writing Month begins in just 2 days. Are you ready to take the WNFIN 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.