The Yellow Brick Road To Non-Fiction Opportunities


It may appear that fiction authors have more leeway in their writing and storytelling. Not true. The Writing, Rhetoric and American Culture (WRAC) department at MSU offers many doors in which students can open and step into professions that involve a variety of non-fiction writing. What opportunities lie in non-fiction? Memoirs, diaries, documentaries, journals, textbooks, photographs, newspapers, magazines, instruction manuals, flash fiction essays, and writing for WRAC are all examples of non-fiction works. Surprisingly, this list is short compared to the many opportunities related to non-fiction that are out there.

yellow_road123 copyBefore we walk down the yellow brick road and discover the different stops WRAC has to offer towards non-fiction, let’s take a look at Webster’s definition of non-fiction, “writing that is about facts or real events.” If we go off Webster’s definition, non-fiction may appear boring. Instead we will use “Dr. Bump” Halbritter’s definition, “Not suspending disbelief, but inspiring belief about things that are accepted.” Well said. Now let’s continue walking down the yellow brick road and begin to explore the possibilities in WRAC.

First Stop: Which Character Are You?

The Scarecrow: The Undergraduate: “Dr. Bump” Halbritter finds excitement in teaching WRA425: Advanced Multimedia Writing, which allows students to uncover the documentary side of non-fiction. Students are given the opportunity to challenge their brains and create amazing videos, for instance, “For the 25” was made by PW alumni. Research and use visual and audio technology to mediate, create and remix text. You will be able to collect, process and edit information to create dialogue and script. This course is offered every spring semester. It is a continuation of WRA225: Intro to Multimedia Writing taught by Alexandra Hidalgo every fall semester.

The Tin Woodman: The MA Student: AL854: Nonfiction Writing Workshop is taught by Dr. Leonora Smith. She provides a set of assignments, experiments and challenges that explore non-fiction techniques and apply strategies of poetry and fiction to non-fiction writing. You’ll develop practices that lead you to write rich, powerful, satisfying non-fiction. With all my heart I was able to compose pieces that were ready for publication or presentation this semester. I am looking forward to reading my piece at the Conference of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature in spring 2014. Students are free to choose any topics and write collective pieces that will allow you to tell your side of the story. This course is offered every other year in the fall semester.

The Cowardly Lion: The PhD. Student: WRA853: Academic Writing is a new course that is going to be taught by Dr. Malea Powell. This course has a curriculum that will allow students to take strategies from creative non-fiction writing into their academic writing. This course is currently known as the Development of the Essay, starting spring 2015 it will be a new course on academic writing. Build the courage and be the first to take this course and take writing techniques and strategies from various creative writing fields, such as poetry and fiction, and use them as ways to make your academic writing better and use other techniques to break through writing blocks. Look forward to this course every spring as a required core course for PhD students and an elective for MA students. Another similar special topic to look forward to in 2015 is WRA891: Workshop in Rhetoric & Writing.

It isn’t uncommon for students to come into college not knowing exactly what they want. There is a variety of creative and imaginative faculty in WRAC that are dedicated towards helping students make the right turn on the yellow brick road. There are great staff and advisors who listen and cater to what you need. Don’t be afraid, college isn’t intended to be a lonely experience. Professors are here to encourage a variety of all kinds of work. Do like Dorothy, network and meet remarkable people along the yellow brick road and establish an amazing team that will help you pick courses and create a concentration. WRAC may not have a concentration geared towards only non-fiction, but once you established what you want, on your crossing towards the end of that road, you can pick out the stops you will make along the way. Continue reading

PlayStation 4 vs. Xbox One

PlayStation 4 vs. Xbox One: Which one is for you? There are many things to consider, such as graphics quality, console design, what games you prefer, speed, price (there is a $100 difference), memory or something as simple as which one has a better controller. Sony is the supporter behind the PS4 and Microsoft is behind the Xbox One. TNW lays out the difference between what Sony and Microsoft will offer with each system. By the way, the end of the launch window will be March 2014, which means there will be much more exclusive game fares. You might want to hold off putting either on your Christmas list and wait till March before deciding. And, if you have the option to double-dip, get both, one for the living room and one for the bedroom.


Speech Bubble Street Art

Spiting rhymes and making beats, spinning mix tapes and freestyling wasn’t enough for the Hip-hop culture. Hip-hop introduced graffiti and blasted their messages to other artists on the street. To some, graffiti is a form of art and communication, but to the law it is considered vandalism. Neatorama introduces a young artist who is making a positive difference. Artist Aiden Glynn found a creative and hilarious way to respond to the art on the street. Aiden’s art project shows him writing messages to other street artists in speech bubbles.



Become A Master Editor In Just 7 Minutes, Advice from Hitchcock

Ever spent hours collecting material for a video presentation, then to realize it will take another three hours or more to cut out unnecessary footage.  Alfred Hitchcock offers a seven-minute video on how to become a master in editing. He explains that there is much more to cutting, it goes much deeper and there are different cinematic approaches to consider when producing the perfect “final version” of a film. If you’d like to behold more of the editing prowess Hitchcock commanded, visit Open Cultures collection of 20 Free Alfred Hitchcock Movies Online.