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Writing Workshops

How to Open Your Nonfiction Piece with Attitude with Javier Sinay


6 Sessions

Out of stock

Once a week Mondays, 6:30 pm EDT - 8:30 pm EDT March 18 to April 22, 2024

Online via Zoom

Registration for this workshop is closed.

This is a workshop on nonfiction writing. The first paragraph sets the tone of a piece, makes a promise of what is to come, inaugurates a world, and introduces an author to his audience. There are few things more important in a piece than the beginning, but should we write it while we are still doing our reporting or should we write it at the end of the fieldwork? Should we be explicit in what we are going to tell or should we be mysterious and poetic in that first paragraph?

These questions and many others are what we will learn in this class. We will read and learn about the beginnings of: Bruce Chatwin, Jacek Hugo-Bader, Pico Iyer, Martín Caparrós, Jorge Luis Borges, Zadie Smith and others.

The first paragraph is the most challenging paragraph in a piece: the reader is ready. If your first paragraph is boring, incomplete, or cheesy, chances are the entire rest of the piece will never be read. The good news is that with techniques and resources that we will see in this workshop, we will teach you how to write it in an awesome way.

Course Outline
  • Session I: What is a powerful opening? Examples and techniques.
  • Session II: How not to lose focus? This is one of the biggest challenges when writing a beginning. Create your direction course. Discover how the beginning is defining for the entire story. Examples and workshopping.
  • Session III: How to find the right tone for your beginning? Write about in a hybrid, honest way, without commonplaces.
  • Session IV: Building scenes: experiences, details and description of real characters. Examples and workshopping.
  • Session V: How to make a concept map on paper, to help you organize the links of your story and choose the best beginning. Examples and workshopping.
  • Session VI: Ending words for a good beginning.
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Led by

  • _L4A0142-Edit - Javier Sinay Large

    Javier Sinay

    Javier Sinay

    Javier Sinay is a writer and journalist. His books include Camino al Este, Cuba Stone (in collaboration), Los crimes de Moisés Ville (published by Restless Books as The Murders of Moises Ville in 2022), and Sangre joven, which won the Premio Rodolfo Walsh de la Semana Negra de Gijón, España. In 2015 he won the Premio de la Fundación Gabo/FNPI for his chronicle “Fast. Furious. Dead.,” published in Rolling Stone. His work has appeared in the newspapers La Nación and Clarín, in Buenos Aires, and on the website RED/ACCIÓN. He was also a South America correspondent for El Universal (Mexico) and the editor of Rolling Stone (Argentina). He has collaborated with Gatopardo (Mexico), Label Negra (Peru), Letras Libres (Mexico) and Reportagen (Switzerland). He lives in Buenos Aires.