Ask Your Library


Event box

Not Everything is a Blog: Turning Non-fiction Ideas into Writing Gems.  (A GMU/FCPL Writing Workshop Partnership)

Not Everything is a Blog: Turning Non-fiction Ideas into Writing Gems. (A GMU/FCPL Writing Workshop Partnership)

This is a 4-session workshop. It is best if the participant comes to all four sessions, but that is not mandatory.

Description of the workshop series:

The word non-fiction conjures immediate thoughts of fact-filled journalism, rambling self-promoting blogs, advertisements, technical writing, and dry academia. And while those images are true, non-fiction writing, specifically creative non-fiction, allows writers to create stories and worlds that speak personal truths.

This class will teach writers how to mine their ideas to create rich content in a variety of non-fiction forms.

Students will learn:

· Writing ideas in many formats including blogs, memoirs, mosaic writing, letters, magazine content, essays, recipes, and non-fiction book proposals

· Self-edit their pieces for wordiness, including the instructor’s list of over 150 words that clog manuscripts and turn off agents, story, and magazine editors

· The importance of appropriate whitespace, beats of action, succinct dialogue, and the pitfalls of stage directions in non-fiction pieces

· Why and how story and article titles matter

· Creating opening paragraphs and first pages for impact

· How to edit for length while improving a piece’s appeal

· Research methods to support non-fiction ideas and add authenticity

· How to give and receive reader feedback in a low-key workshop setting if appropriate

· Defining audiences and adhering to publication guidelines

· An overview of the non-fiction manuscript proposal

· Diversity and sensitivity matters. How to determine if your story or article may offend a reader and ways to solve it.

Students should come to class with a non-fiction topic they’d like to explore or edit. Class discussion and robust Q&A will be encouraged. Critiquing etiquette will be discussed, such as the importance of providing positive feedback. Students should recognize we come to our writing journey at varied levels of skill. Kindness and community are expected. Due to the sensitive nature of politics and political discourse, the instructor requests that no political topics be brought forth into open forums.

The instructor for this workshop is Sharon Ritchey, whose biography is below.

Week one:

Can I Write About…?

Any subject is ripe for non-fiction. Often the limiting factor is permission, or rather a writer’s need for someone to say, yes. In our first class, we will discuss how to take a non-fiction idea and develop it with research, quotes, dialogue, and even images. The only person who needs to say yes is you. Types of non-fiction will be discussed as well as audiences and outcomes.

Week two:

Writing Something out of Nothing - Research

Students will learn to use the library resources to research and write an idea. Each student will be given a random fun topic and a time limit to find three different sources of content to support a story idea. This could include interviewing someone in the stacks to finding a related photo on the wall. Research is an essential tool to develop non-fiction writing. Learning to use non-internet resources provides for rich outcomes.

Students will work to develop the idea into a non-fiction piece or set aside and work on something personal.

Week three:

The Secret of Self-editing

Class begins with a discussion of developmental editing and how working at the sentence and word level can improve a completed piece or kick start a stalled one.

Students will be given the instructor’s list of 150+ words, phrases, and grammatical structures that she recommends can be removed from written pieces.

Students will be encouraged to ask specific questions.

Students will recognize problems unique to their writing and how to self-edit.

Week four:

Write for Yourself but Listen to Others – Feedback

Unless you are journaling, most writers intend for someone to read their work. It could be an audience of one or maybe they are writing a speech to reach hundreds of people. All writing can benefit from a fresh-eye review. In this final class, students will be invited to share their work and offer feedback and constructive criticism.


Tuesday, July 26, 2022 Show more dates
2:00pm - 3:00pm
Patrick Henry Meeting Room
Library Branch:
Patrick Henry Library
Make/Create > Creative Writing
  Adults     Teens  
FCPL Event Guidelines
Registration has closed.

Sharon Ritchey has been involved in the publications industry for over twenty-five years. A proficient writer, editor, and manager, she has worked for trade journals, magazines, international corporations, non-profits, universities, and public relations firms. Her expertise includes writing and editing feature-length articles, books, corporate profiles, bios, press releases, marketing materials, newsletters, bios, advertisements, marketing collateral, website content, blogs, and developing product and company names.

Sharon has an MFA in creative non-fiction writing from George Mason University, holds a publications certificate from George Washington University, and has a BA in government and international relations from Clark University. She serves as Vice President of Communications for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA).

She is represented by Ann Leslie Tuttle of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret, LLC. A portion of her non-fiction writing can be found her in the portfolio section of and fiction at



Please contact Patrick Henry Library for signed language interpretation or assistive listening devices.. Two weeks advance notice is recommended.

Event Organizer

Profile photo of Patrick Henry Library Staff
Patrick Henry Library Staff

Ask Your Library