As you could tell from my previous posts about this man, I am a huge David Foster Wallace fan. I wanted to share this inspiring syllabus (yes, I just called a college course syllabus inspiring) especially with the folks in the creative writing community.
Here are excerpts from his syllabus for Pomona College's English 183D for Spring 2008.
First let's understand what creative nonfiction is. Nonfiction writing ought to be about fact, but how can that also be creative?
"The creative goal, broadly stated, may be to interest readers, or to instruct them, or to entertain them, to move or persuade, to edify, to redeem, to amuse, to get readers to look more closely at or think more deeply about something that’s worth their attention. . . or some combination(s) of these."
DFW goes on to explain that this creative element to writing doesn't mean that it cannot be taken seriously:
"This does not, however, mean that an essayist’s main goal is simply to “share” or “express herself” or whatever feel-good term you might have got taught in high school. In the grown-up world, creative nonfiction is not expressive writing but rather communicative writing. And an axiom of communicative writing is that the reader does not automatically care about you (the writer), nor does she find you fascinating as a person, nor does she feel a deep natural interest in the same things that interest you. The reader, in fact, will feel about you, your subject, and your essay only what your written words themselves induce her to feel."
Not many people think about nonfiction writing as a genre that will move you emotionally, but DFW insists it is meant to do exactly that.
That being said, as a writer, how and what do you make people feel with your words? I hope that going forward you can all improve your craft and harness the energy of your words.