Sample 15

Author: Nola Published: over 5 years ago
Tags: nonfiction, travel writing Category: Writing exercise

Making Nonfiction More Interesting

The following is an exercise in how to make nonfiction more interesting. Compare the two versions of the same scene.

No-Frills Version

My husband and I went on a bus tour of Italy. Our first stop was Rome and we couldn’t believe how dangerous it was to drive down the streets. Girls with no protective clothing would ride Vespas in between buses. One of our tour guides used to stand behind the driver and hold on with just one hand. I was worried she might fall and hurt herself.

Jazzed-Up Version

Driving around Rome was an experience in itself. If there were two tour buses travelling side by side with a six-inch space between them, an Italian girl wearing a mini skirt, high heels and no helmet would whizz through the gap on her Vespa.

By this time, we’d picked up a local tour guide who told us to call her the Gucci lady on account of the Gucci scarf she waved above her head so we could find her in a crowd. She teetered precariously on the step behind Mario the driver, holding on with one hand and gesturing wildly with the other every time he failed to follow one of her instructions. Mario was a handsome young buck who thought the tour bus was a Ferrari and that Rome was his own personal Grand Prix. Every time he braked, I expected the Gucci lady to hurtle through the side door and join the girl on the Vespa. The fact that she didn’t was testament to her staying powers rather than Mario’s skill behind the wheel.


The jazzed-up version is an extract from the following publication:

Passmore, N. L. (2014). Vespas, wheelchairs, and the metamorphosis of Alberto. In J. Cooper, B. Morton, J. Spencer & C. Tuovinen (Eds.), Tales from the upper room: Tabor Adelaide anthology 2014 (pp. 12-19). Saint Marys, South Australia: Immortalise.