Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Details and Description in Memoir

My inspiration in many ways

            When writing memoir, the author needs to remember that while she can see the cast of characters and the settings in a scene, the reader cannot.

            I didn’t think about this before as I was trying to make word count for the month.  Memoir needs to be populated with three dimensional characters.  Each scene needs to be fully developed.  Memoir needs to be story.  And the reader needs to be immersed in it.

            To interest a reader in fact or fiction, there needs to be a strong storyline.  A problem with an outcome.  An exciting journey.  A protagonist and an antagonist—even if the antagonist is a concept; like in my memoir, time or educational understanding. 

            While I’m moving ahead with my memoir, another 12,000 plus words for February, I need to remember to go back and flesh out specific details and description for the most important cast of characters in the memoir—my family.  I know my husband had a touch of gray in his curly hair, a moustache, and glasses, but the reader doesn’t.  For that matter, the reader doesn’t know that my hair was dark brown and shoulder length when I was attending college. 

            But where do you stick in telling details and description in the story?  You don’t want to bog down the flow of a passage with pages of description.  The best place is to tuck in bits of description within the action of the story. 

            In my memoir, I supply the details of the chemistry lab classroom as I’m immersed in an experiment with my classmates or fretting over a final presentation for class.  Use the senses when describing place.  I needed to allow the reader to see, hear, and smell the classroom.  And in story, allow the reader to suffer along with the protagonist.  Get inside her head, feel the heart pumping and the head pounding.  Don’t forget to show why the characters feel this way. 

Do you have another suggestion to tuck in telling details while keeping the story moving forward?  Please share it with us. 

A story is a living breathing creation.  Make sure your readers feel the same way about your creation.