A friend suggested I purchase a book on character development. I hurried to the Amazon web site and placed my order. Now, I’m too busy reading and underlining to have time to write.
Once I’m finished reading, I’ll have to go back over the work I’ve already completed and determine whether or not my characters are well defined. Maybe I’ll need to ramp them up a bit.
Writing this memoir is becoming a big job. I hope when I finish it, it will be worth reading.
I’ve worked and worked on the chapter about my husband’s indecision regarding attending college and added as much tension as I dare. I want to keep my writing as factual as possible but also make it interesting. According to a writing coach I’ve met, she claims that if I ever want to publish my work, I’d have to embellish it a lot and really ramp up the tension in order to keep the reader engaged. The question for me is, “What am I going to do with this? Do I really want to publish it or just make it available for family?”
Another troubling decision to make. I’ll think about that one later.
Well, I read a few pages the other evening at one of my reading groups. They were from a chapter that I thought was pretty good. In fact, I was almost ready to stamp the chapter, COMPLETE.
Unfortunately, I’m back to the drawing board with my writing. I always forget that a story has to have tension. To create a story, there has to be something I want, something that gets in the way of achieving what I want, and then either a change in what I want or a solution.
When I reread my few pages, I had to agree. So, I’m sitting here today adding tension. That’s not really hard to do. I have to put a few stumbling blocks in the way and, in life, there are always stumbling blocks.
Back to work. Thank God for computers. What did writer’s do when they had to write everything in longhand. I would give up if I didn’t have a computer. Cut and paste is my favorite thing.
One of the people in the Tuesday group suggested I start reading other memoirs to get some ideas. I had already read Angela’s Ashes a number of years ago, but I don’t remember much about it. I heard the Glass Castle is good so I took it out of our local library the other day. I can’t put it down. Her upbringing reminds me a lot of my husband’s. Then, I read in the newspaper that it took her six months to write it and five years to edit. Yikes! I don’t know if I have that long. Anyway, that was a good suggestion. First of all, I learned that it’s more of a story than just listing facts.
I’m going to buy the book, Your Life as Story, to find out the structure of a story.
I am truly enjoying the Tuesday night writing group. It varies from two to ten participants each week. They’re welcoming and supportive. When they give advice, it’s usually right on track. The nice part about their advice is that I don’t always have to take it, but it makes me look at what I’ve written with a more critical eye. I have to remember the reader in all of this. How will they feel? Will they understand what I’ve written and will they want to continue reading? For example, I wrote something about an ice box and one of the younger (young by my standards) thought I made a mistake and meant ice cubes. That just shows that I do have to think more about the reader. When I started writing, I wasn’t really considering the reader’s view of my writing. The more I work at this, the more I learn.
Last Friday, I got really brave and read a few segments from my book at the open mic night at Writer’s and Books. The comments I received were positive. I guess they heard me over the knocking of my knees.
I keep trying new things in the hopes that it will build my confidence enough so that I may one day be able to publish my work. Right now, I’m still feeling that it isn’t good enough. In the last few weeks, I am noticing that the members of the Tuesday night writer’s group are giving me more positive feedback and fewer suggestions for change. Also, I am beginning to get a handle on the dreaded “SHOW DON’T TELL”.
I took the advice of one member from the Tuesday night group and reworked my short story. I tried to add more detail and emotion. I now realize that I don’t put enough of these two ingredients into my writing to make my work interesting. When I write without description or feelings, then the writing is flat. It’s that old SHOW DON’T TELL thing bugging me again. I tend to just tell what happened without creating a scene. I need to bring in the senses–touch, smell, taste, etc. and create a little tension in each scene.
I’m going to work on this all week and read my new, improved copy next week to see if I’m on the right track.