How to make your story come alive
Writing a memoir might seem easy because you already know the story-after all, its your own. But to write a fascinating account of your life, you not only have to tell your tale compellingly, you also have to master plot, character dialogue, theme, and the other essential elements of great writing. (Victoria Costello)
I’ve always found that belonging to a writer’s group or attending and even running a class where you workshop your story helps me as a writer. It inspires me to keep on writing. The prompts, exercises and inspirational examples help get the story out of my head and onto the page.
You may simply want to record your story for your family, or may want to write it for a larger audience. But whatever your aim, it helps to know how to craft your story into a gripping yarn.
Don’t hesitate to stand on the shoulders of others. Learn from those who have gone before you. I read everything I can lay my hands on relating to the story I’m writing. Dishes are left in the sink, beds remain unmade but reading helps me to understand how other writers have overcome some of the problems I may be facing.
Here is a list of some of the books and authors who have helped me on my writing journey.
The Artist’s Way: A spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Naked, Drunk and Writing, Shed your Inhibitions and Write a Compelling Personal Essay or Memoir by Adair Lara.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Experience has taught me that if I’m going to write anything beyond the mundane I must accept the need for crappy first drafts. Anne Dillard, in The Writing Life says,
‘When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner’s pick, a woodcarver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. soon you will find yourself deep in a new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year’
Friends often ask when the book will be finished. My reply is ‘How long is a piece of string.’ Some people can write a complete memoir in half the time it takes me. Everyone is different. A book may take from one to ten years to complete, but who cares as long as it is a labour of love? The passion carries you through until you complete the journey. When writing the story based on my father’s life I pinned a quote from Bryce Courtney onto my wall.
‘There is no greater tribute than to lovingly record a life’.
Maya Angelou, author of the acclaimed memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings says,
‘What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,’ you know. And it might be the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced I’m serious and says, Okay, okay, I’ll come.’
Fellow blogger and close friend, Mari Neil has a blog titled Up The Creek with a Pen. In her blog A little moderation Goes a Long Way she believes writing classes are here to stay. I certainly hope so.
May the words flow freely. Happy writing everyone