Recap: The Art of Short Form Writing – A DEI Approach (ft. +Perspectives)
On December 3 and December 10, STEAR was happy to host Alexander Langlois and Carla Cabrera Cuadrado from +Perspectives (More Perspectives) in a two-part workshop all about op-ed and other short form writing! Although this event was primarily aimed at STEAR members, we also welcomed several external attendees, which allowed for some very interesting and fruitful discussions.
In the first workshop, after going over brief introductions of both organizations, we dove into a cornerstone of +Perspectives’ work, namely the DEI approach. DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) is an approach that touches on several persistent issues in the writing and publishing world, as some voices are prioritized over others and some voices are not included at all. This not only affects the de facto diversity of authors, but also leads to a lack of diversity in opinions – and this, in turn, negatively impacts the health, efficacy, and nature of the public debate. In response to some of these problems, +Perspectives encourages contributions from a wide variety of backgrounds and viewpoints, and explicitly draws attention to the ways in which the aforementioned issues can impact our understanding of not only the writing world, but of the world in general.
The audience was encouraged to speak about their experiences – or lack thereof – in publishing short form writing, after which we discussed the importance of a succinct and clearly written article pitch that can be used when approaching an editor or publishing outlet. Splitting into breakout rooms, we discussed our own pitches that we drafted and gave each other feedback before wrapping up the session with a quick review and some homework for the second workshop.
During the second workshop session, we briefly shared our impressions from the op-ed articles that were shared with us in preparation for this second half and discussed what we found the most interesting or relevant about these pieces. In response to this discussion, several attendees spoke about their experiences with and questions about different publication contexts, both culturally and nationally speaking, and how it affects different kinds of writing.
Alex and Carla then jumped into the main informative section of the workshop, in which they discussed the issue of building a good structure and shared some advice on how to walk the fine line between writing a properly informed op-ed and a personal text. They shared valuable insights regarding paragraph length, reiterating the role of a strong pitch, clear introduction, and a well-established connection to the main argument. Audience members asked additional questions about the question of being balanced and succinct at the same time, and we spoke about writing a solid conclusions (and the risk of run-on paragraphs).
Finally, the audience was split up into different breakout rooms, where we further discussed the structure of a potential article idea in small groups. These ideas were discussed in the plenary session, and all attendees were encouraged to submit their drafts to +Perspectives for consideration and advice. We finished the event with a short final Q&A.
Thank you again to Alex and Carla for their great workshops and valuable insights! It was great to have you and I speak for all attendees in saying that we learned a lot. Make sure to check out their website and/or social media to stay up to date with their work!
Carla is a PhD candidate in Communication and Interculturality at the University of Valencia, Spain. Her main research focuses on Spain's Public Diplomacy in the United States. She is the President of SIETAR Europa (Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research). As the Communications Director and Co-Founder of More Perspectives, she takes care of internal and external communications at the organization.
Alexander is an independent analyst and writer with an M.A. from American University's School of International Service. His work and research primarily focuses on the Middle East and North Africa. As the Editorial Manager and Co-Founder of More Perspectives, Alex leads the editorial mentorship efforts and has worked with multiple new writers to publish articles.
+Perspectives’ mission is to empower the next generation of thought leaders with unheard perspectives from historically marginalized and underrepresented socioeconomic groups for the purpose of creating equitable opportunities and access to public discourse. Through workshops and an editorial mentorship program, +Perspectives brings together scholars and practitioners with varying degrees of writing experience. Find out more about their work at http://moreperspectives.org/