X2: Event-Based Writing

If your first piece for this course centered on remembering, I’d like this second piece to be based on observing. Spend some time observing (or reading about) a group, event, or place; take some notes on what you see, hear,or read; write an essay (or part of an essay) in which you re-present what you’ve noticed. In many ways, the challenge here is similar to that of writing from personal experience—in that I’d like you to try to evoke the subject of your writing as vividly and accurately as you can.

The difference is that the focus of this piece should lie less on you than on what you are observing.  Feel free to take on the role of interviewer, reporter, researcher—asking questions, finding out facts. You can be part of the piece you re writing. But I don’t want you, as it were, to report on yourself. The personal in this assignment should come from the work you do as a writer—that is, from the perspective you take on your subject, and the voice or tone you take in describing it.

There are several pieces in Franzen that offer different ways of approaching this sort of event- or report-based writing: Junger, Kipnis, Kisner, Lange, Sacks. Read them for ideas about how to approach your own piece.

Good luck! I look forward to reading your work!

Deadline: Tues, 2/28, 10:00 AM, posted to your Google Drive folder.


About Joe Harris

I teach composition, creative nonfiction, and digital writing at the University of Delaware.
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