Friday, February 1, 2013

Earning It

Over the last month or so, we've been talking about projects--getting them done, making them unified, facing obstacles in our paths, and setting intermediate goals.

Today is going to be a more contemplative post about memoir, sharing, and the writing process.
"i ain't gonna tell you" she said and turned her head
"ain't gonna tell me what" i asked
"what you asking me you gotta live to be seventy-nine
fore you could understand anyhow"
"now you being uppity" i said
"yeah but i earned it" ...
                                ~ Nikki Giovanni, from "Conversation"
My verses have "touches of truth in them"  ~ James Laughlin, from "Death Lurches Toward Me"
"Your job is not to judge your characters, no matter how despicable or wonderful they may be.  Your job is to lay out what happens, as clearly and dispassionately as possible, show how it affects the protagonist, and then get the hell out of the way." ~ Lisa Cron, from Wired for Story
Memoir and fiction share many aspects:  story arc, vivid description, a reliance on characterization.  But they also differ in an important aspect:  Memoirs are true, and we want to hear the writer's opinion.  You do not need to be dispassionate, but, like Nikki Giovanni's old woman, you need to earn your wisdom in the eye of your reader.

Our goal this week is to recognize the point that we want to make at story's end and make sure that we have put in enough hints, action, and vivid evidence to justify the insight we choose to share (or maybe more appropriately, unveil) at the end.

How do you do that?
  1. Make sure the conflict of your story is directly related to your point.
  2. Show as much of all sides of the issue as possible.  Be sure to use your senses and the intelligences discussed in the last post.
  3. Order how (and when) you unveil that information.
  4. Make each step close.  Use dialogue, rhythm, and paragraphing to emphasize your point.
  5. Reveal your point of view with subtlety but finality.
I'm going to post this now just to get it up, but check back later in the week for expansion of the points above.

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