Summer mini-writing workshop: More on nonfiction writing


Just like query letters and synopses, writing blurbs, in this DIY world, is part of the process. Here is an example of a blurb for my postmodern short story, “Jordan/Jordyn,” where I used gender-neutral pronouns (it was a largely experimental project): Jordan Morrison has always felt his body was a mistake. His Catholic upbringing and gender dysphoria have started a civil war inside him, but it is his romance with Drew—a young woman with whom he’s been honest about his gender identity—that concerns him. Will she still love him when he becomes Jordyn, or does she only love what makes him a man? Will their relationship survive the transformation that will right what Jordan believes nature made wrong, or is Drew only pretending to support his decision because she knows it’s what he wants?

Part of my job used to be going through the daily obituaries. I’ve read some lovely tributes that captured the spirit of a loved one. Don’t wait until someone transitions before you record your memories of them, for what a treasure it would be to interview my grandparents and capture their stories—the ones only they could have told. In my Shutterfly account, I made memory books of my daughter where I document things—like how her dad and I used to put her duck, Quackers, on the fan blade and make him spin around till he fell off. Jot down your memories at their ripest and then freeze them at their freshest.

When I took Professional and Technical Writing, I learned how to create a beautiful and comprehensive set of instructions. If you can teach someone how to do something, great, but if you can help them teach themselves, even better.

I already know what I think of myself and can only imagine what other people think of me. A great quote from Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead is when Mr. Toohey asks the idealistic architect, Howard Roark, “Mr. Roark, we’re alone here. Why don’t you tell me what you think of me? In any words you wish. No one will hear us,” to which Roark replies, “But I don’t think of you.” For this exercise, you must dig deep—remove yourself from your writing and step into the mind (if not the shoes) of someone else who knows you fairly well. You are not looking in the mirror, but you are looking at yourself, looking in the mirror.

Press releases may not be literature, but they serve a purpose, and the more types of writing you can do, the better you’ll become at the type of writing you like to do best.

I love telling my stories above all others. Maybe that’s because I’m an introvert. I also enjoy telling other people’s stories, though I ensure theirs are the ones I want to tell.

Every family has their traditions. Mine was always opening gifts on Christmas Eve (with no explanation of why Santa came early). By becoming your family’s historian, you are preserving not just the family tree but the fruit borne from it.

A cover letter to a magazine should be simple. Here is an example:

Dear Editor (if you know their name, use it; if you must specify Poetry Editor, etc., do so),

Please consider “The Murderous Yogi” for Dog Day Mornings, which is 2020 words. I have been published on, in Bella Grace magazine, and with The Saturday Evening Post. I am pursuing my B.A. in English, with a concentration in Creative Writing, at the University of West Florida, and am a Writing Expert for Grammarly.

Thank you,

Sarah Richards

*If you read and liked one of the articles they published, mention it to show you read their journal; however, this isn’t a must-do thing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s