Hutchison's "Art of Feature Writing" released by Oxford University PressThe title of Earl Hutchison's most recently released textbook captures the spirit of how he likes to approach students of writing. In The Art of Feature Writing: From Newspaper Features and Magazine Articles to Commentary (Oxford University Press, 2008), the Tennessee Tech University journalism professor entreats readers to embrace the craft and artistry of prose, fiction and poetry in freelance writing -- and then makes sure they know how to accept rejections and turn them into money-making deductions at income tax time.
While the textbook takes the student by the hand and acts as a guide through the various steps of freelance writing, these mechanics are but a part of the artful approach Hutchison himself admits is "subversive."
"These are treacherous, partial-attention times," said Hutchison, who points out that students have become accustomed to artifices such as scrolling type on television screens. "I try to counter the distractions this generation has been reared on by selecting items that entertain and interest students."
To that end, the textbook is filled with features, articles, commentary and notes on issues of deepest concern to our country -- freedom of expression, gender equity, workplace concerns, wayward governments, environment, economy, love, and mental and physical health.
Tested on freelance students at Tennessee Tech for five years, Hutchison's selections of newspaper features, magazine articles and commentary made the cut out of more than 380 pieces in his collection. It also features commentary by freelancers, even comic strips, that serve as a print version of scrolling type, but with material that enhances instruction.
Along with the phases of freelance writing -- which include the idea, research, interview, organization and writing -- the text also covers the revision process, the market selection process, and the marketing of the work.
"To assuage egos bruised by the rejections students will most assuredly receive, I acquaint them with well-known authors such as James Lee Burke, Marry Higgins Clark and William Faulkner, and the numerous rejections they've had dumped on them," said Hutchison.
"This is no stodgy text," he said. "I've written a text that reflects the trust in and affection I have for students."
Hutchison, who joined TTU's faculty in 1980, is also the author of Writing for Mass Communication , Second Edition; Growing Up on the Illinois Prairie During the Great Depression and the Coal Mine Wars: A Portrayal of the Way Life Was ; and Tropic of Cancer on Trial: A Case History of Censorship .
More than 3,000 of his news stories, features, reviews and articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines.