Writing Prompt 126
In your opinion, what qualities make a great president of the United States?
With so much discussion going on about people who are dropping hints about choosing to run or not run for president of the United States in 2016, now is a great time to discuss what makes a great president. History tells us stories about some who were mediocre. A few select people go on to be good. We can talk a lot about that. But, what exactly makes a great president?
Some of you may be tempted to go the fictional route on today’s prompt and create a short story or satire on the qualities of so-called great presidents. Let’s leave that style of writing to the masters of fiction. Here on this site, we are all nonfiction writers. Let’s use the tools at our disposal—facts, figures, research, and a boundless energy to blend everything with creativity that is tempered with precision.
In other words, today’s prompt invites you to do your research, think about recent presidential candidates, and consider the current status of the United States. Taking into account the social, moral, and economic problems we’ve faced in the last few years, what characteristics would make a great president who could lead our country to success?
Nonfiction Writing: Analytical
Today, we focus on a more formal style of analytical nonfiction writing. Last time, we briefly mentioned the role of movie reviewers, who are actually known as film critics. If you like movies and enjoy dissecting the essence of plots and character development, writing analyses of movies may be a good fit for you.
However, there are also two other types of analyses that are thoughtful reviews of the subject matter. Nonfiction writers may be interested in literary criticism or book reviews. The book reviews I have in mind, however, are not the kind you’d see on Goodreads.com or Amazon.com. If you have read the book reviews written by others and posted to those social media giants, you may be left scratching your head and wondering if the reviewers ever continued their schooling beyond high school.
Writing proper book reviews involves a thorough read and understanding of a book. Is the book fiction or nonfiction? What is it about? What are the main points? If it is a book of fiction, how are the characters portrayed? Are all major conflicts nicely wrapped up or do they leave the reader hanging? What did you like about the book? What did you hate about the book?
When writing an honest book review, you should not care about the background of the author, determine that he needs more ratings, or wonder how much money he is making. All of that is extraneous and distracts from the purpose of the book review in the first place. If you can manage to strip away the melodrama of book reviews that runs rampant on social media, you will end up creating a stellar piece of analytical writing.
Literary criticism is a bit more academic than the average book review. Literary criticism involves approaching classical literature with a modern eye. It is not enough to say that Shakespeare is a weirdo or misogynist, even though you may already feel that way. Recall a recent challenge from me to you to strip away your emotions to conduct a less biased and more thoughtful review of something. Reviewing the plots and character development of classical literature is quite challenging but also rewarding.
Some people use literary criticism to approach modern books. The approach is the same though the results can be different. When reviewing literature, for example, in many cases, the authors of the classics are deceased. Reviews of modern books, by contrast, involve authors who are still alive. When authors are living, interpretation is far more exciting and sometimes dynamic.
It’s almost time for National Nonfiction Writing Month. 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.