Most of us have been assigned a five-paragraph essay at some level of school. Assignments such as these stifle the imagination and encourage the belief that there are simple recipes for writing nonfiction. Unsurprisingly, the results are most often uninteresting to both writer and reader. Here is a summary of artful form, which we can also call organic form, told by John McPhee, long-time New Yorker writer and master of his craft, in Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process: “You can build a structure in such a way that it causes people to want to keep turning pages. A compelling structure in nonfiction can have an attracting effect analogous to a story line in fiction.” Building a particular structure is neither easy nor obvious. This is why you will spend lots of time in this class writing and rewriting the nonfiction story you want to write and figuring out how to tell it most effectively: that is to say, how to make it true and readable while telling it your own way. General Public/Member: $88/$82 For more info or to register, call 360.586.6181 or stop by the Olympia or Lacey Senior Center. Registration starts March 4th.
Tom Maddox worked for years as a writer, editor, and teacher. He was writing director at The Evergreen State College for nearly ten years. His writing, fiction and non-fiction, has been widely published. In addition to writing essays, he is a novelist and short story writer, also the co-author of two “X-Files” scripts.