I chose to write a creative nonfiction article, meant to be featured in Time‘s Ideas category. Because I started with a research paper, I had a pretty clear argument from the beginning, but a very formal way of expressing it. I couldn’t pull out any original sentences for my new project, they were all too academic for my new genre. Almost every sentence had to be rewritten from my original source to fit into my repurposed project. Although that sounds like a lot of work, it was easier to change than I expected. When I first read my paper again to start making changes, it was difficult to actually change something I had once crafted but the more I did it, the more I got into the mindset and habit of writing in a tone appropriate for my new genre.
I also gained inspiration from my main source, from which I modeled content and style. I tried to use the same paragraph length and breaks as Laura Bates in her article. After I got used to doing that, it was fun to be dramatic in my composition. I never before had the freedom of abrupt endings or including quotes without in depth analysis. I could say the things I was thinking without carefully wording an academic sounding sentence, I could be direct and therefore powerful (not to say that my original paper wasn’t also powerful). I could also emphasize the importance of the author’s perspective more than I could in my original source. In my research paper, I realized I could have come across as an upset teenager who just wanted to wear sweatpants to school. But because I could take on the persona of a teacher with adult experience with the issue, and because I could speak in first person and be personal with readers, I feel like my argument was stronger in this project.
As for my individual style, I found myself using rhetorical questions often. I also directly addressed the readers at a few points. Both these style choices would be inappropriate in a research paper, but my new genre let me appeal on a personal level to the reader. I could better entice the reader to consider the topic of my article through asking questions and directly addressing them. But because of these personal touches, I had to watch myself when I used more serious and more academic phrases. I tried to keep all of my sentences from sounding like they were from my original research paper, but it was difficult to do that when I referenced statistics or speculated on the societal impact of dress codes. Overall I found writing this creative nonfiction piece challenging but fun at the same time. It wasn’t as easy as I anticipated and I know I still have room to improve, but I am happy with my first draft.