Like to Write?  Nonfiction Writing Workshop for Beginners back to opening page


Reading Assignments

The readings chosen for this sequence will vary from time to time.  They are all presented as links to the pages of other web sites, and you are to respect the copyrights of these authors and their publishers.  The web offers a valuable source of material, although, understandable, most writers do not choose to post entire essays and stories.  On the Hints and Links web page  Hints and LInks  you will see links to several "E-Libraries" mostly offering out of copyright material.  Make use of these, but remember, it is important that you read current material.  By subscribing to the magazines I am linking you to, you will assure yourself of the opportunity to do this.  It is always better to see the print version of an article, preferably in its original setting.  When you see that, you get an idea of how much printed space words can fill, how easy or difficult it is on the eye to read certain texts, and how editors choose to present them.

The texts I have chosen are not to be viewed as absolute "models" for your writing.  I am fully aware that some of them are a bit  wordy and even difficult.  Even these, however, offer valuable examples of how material can be structured. 

The thing I most want you to observe is how these articles/essays/stories start out.  Without exception them move right into the text.  Boldly.  They do not start "cute."  Above all, they set up the pattern the text that follows with use.

So read as much as you can.  Subscribe to the magazines that impress you. 

If you wish to be a writer, you should first become a reader.

And remember.  A writer does not just read things that he or she likes.  No, no, no.  A writer reads to learn, as well as for pleasure.

Here are some sample readings.  Click the links to the entire articles.


Cary Grant's Suit

by Todd McEwen

Cary Grant in North by Northwest: 'It’s by far the best suit in the movie, in the movies, perhaps the whole world.'

North By Northwest isn't a film about what happens to Cary Grant, it's about what happens to his suit. The suit has the adventures, a gorgeous New York suit threading its way through America. The title sequence in which the stark lines of a Madison Avenue office building are 'woven' together could be the construction of Cary in his suit right there—he gets knitted into his suit, into his job, before our very eyes. Indeed some of the popular 'suitings' of that time ('windowpane' or 'glen plaid') perfectly complemented office buildings . . . . 

Fancy Lamps

by Neil Steinberg

The struggle to go on making things in Chicago.

From the street, the factory housing the Frederick Cooper Lamp Company is not as ugly as most. The building was originally a ladies undergarment plant, built around 1900; it has a courtyard and windows, luxuries that would later be dispensed with in most factories. The four-storey brick building, with a square tower double that height, is a reminder that a factory was once the centrepiece of a neighbourhood, second only to the local church . . . .

Early Retirement

by  John Lanchester

Memoir: 'A banker's life is not for me.'

My father used to tell the story of a tutor at his university, a Viennese professor of something or other. There was a general conversation about what people would have, if they could have anything in the world. There were some surprising answers—a youngish woman don said she wanted an enormous wine cellar. When it came to the old Viennese, he sucked his pipe for a moment, and then said, 'Vell, if I could really have anything I wanted, anything at all, I think I would choose...permanent delusions of grandeur.'

 Turn Page