Writing: Conversing

For your third exercise for this course, I’d like you to base a piece of writing on conversation you’ve had with one or more people.

The pieces we’ve read from The New Yorker offer you a range of possibilities for structuring your writing—interview, profile, group discussion—but let me add a few rules for generating the materials of your piece:

  • Your piece must be based on a real-time conversation that you have either recorded or taken notes on. (In other words, it may not be based on a remembered conversation.)
  • You must get permission from the people you talk with to use their words in your writing. Indeed, if you decide to revise and develop this piece, you must show your writing to the person(s) it is about, and get their formal permission, in writing. to share your work with others.

Identifying a good subject for this piece is crucial. You’ll want to start thinking now about locating someone who you’re interested in talking with. Make an appointment. Think about the questions you want to ask them. Be willing to go off script—I’m not requiring you to do a journalistic interview—but have a sense of what you want to learn, of where you want the conversation to head.

Since I will be traveling next week, I will be able to give you a few extra days—to Friday, 3/17— to complete this assignment. But remember that you will still have your third revision due on Tuesday, 3/21.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Good luck!



About Joe Harris

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