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.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Tell Me a Story: The Voice of Narrators in Memoir #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

When writing gurus talk about voice in a story, they are referring to the narrator’s voice, the protagonist’s voice, the person telling the story. And many times this has a lot to do with the author voice as well. We tend to infuse our narrators with wit, poignancy, or anything needed to tell our stories, whether fiction or memoir.

There is so much to know about the different narrators in story; omniscient, limited, first person, etc. For this post, I’d like to concentrate on the voice of the narrator in memoir.

There are two kinds of narrators in memoir and the author needs to decide where she is standing when she is telling her story. The importance in memoir is “what the narrator knows and when she knows it.”

According to Jennie Nash of Author Accelerator, there are two narrators in memoir:
the writer, the person who lived the experience
the writer, the person who is telling the experience.

In story, it is who knows what, and when they know it. In memoir, there is the narrator at the beginning of the story arc and narrator at end of the story arc. In most stories, the character needs to grow and change no place more so than in memoir.

In my case, the narrator at the end of the story arc is the Victoria after her experience of attending college and graduating. What did she get out of it? Was it worth taking time away from the family to obtain that diploma?

But to tell this college story, I needed to choose:
Was I going to tell the memoir story as a narrator standing in the present time looking back on my college experience? Was I going to tell my college story as a narrator with the experience of having gone through college?
Was I going to tell the story as an unknowing narrator actually going through the college experience for the first time?

Nash explains that a narrator in memoir who knows what she knows presently, after her experience, looking back is a more powerful narrator for the story.

So as memoir writers, we have to know:  who in the story knows what, and when they know it. In memoir you have:

The Narrator – unknowing before the experience or knowing after the experience
The Character in the memoir story
The real Person who lived the memoir story.

Three different selves the memoir writer has to master. This is the difficult part of memoir story. If you don’t know the roles those three different selves are playing, you’ll struggle. And believe me; I struggled tremendously with this understanding. I still do.

As a writer of fiction, you have:
The narrator and
The character
NOT the person who lived the tale. This doesn’t come into play in fiction. But you still need to decide who in your story knows what information and when do they know it?

This is not an easy concept to understand. I hope I’m making sense here for you. It's ONE narrator then in my college memoir. I needed to choose how to tell the story; whether I was looking at the experience at the time of attending college as an unknowing narrator
if I was telling the story in the present time, after attending college with all the knowledge and insight gained since, looking back at my experiences.

            I chose to tell my college story as a knowing narrator after my college experience looking back on my experiences. I still have my character Victoria going through the experiences. I still have the real person Victoria who actually lived the college experiences; how she felt, what she did, how she coped. But my narrator is an experienced narrator who can infuse the manuscript [story] with knowledge gained from college and life experiences.

I’d like to thank Jennie Nash of Author Accelerator for helping me to understand the different narrators and character selves in memoir.

Please ask any questions about my college memoir and share any insight you may have in the comments section of Adventures in Writing about the voice of the narrator in your story. Thanks so much!

And thank you for visiting Adventures in Writing. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in the comment so I can be sure to do the same for you. To continue hopping through more amazing blogs or to join our Author Toolbox blog hop, click here

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Insecure Writers Want to Know: Do You Have Any Rituals to Help You Get into the Writing Zone?

Rituals to help me get into the writing zone? I don’t know if these are rituals, per se. But chocolate and a fresh hot pot of tea go a long way to help me write. Now if they could only give me the structure of the story and the words, I’d be good. To find those, I usually need to go for a walk in the woods. By myself! That’s the hard part. Especially now with everybody home.

            And even when I’m in the zone, hammering away at a YA short story, hoping with all my heart this story might bring in another published clip, Cricket Magazine cuts me down with a form rejection email. Each time I think it will get easier to take, but for me, rejection still stings.

            So another walk ensues to talk to the Lord about why I try so hard and seem to get nowhere. It’s better than yelling at my family. It’s not their fault no one’s waiting for my stories. But I always come crawling back to my computer to begin again. That’s the courage we writers need to find again and again. And it’s not easy to find!

A hot pot of tea and chocolates!
But if we’re lucky, we get a yes for publication. I have a Cricket story coming out in the June 2020 issue, if they can get the magazine out with this pandemic. Sometimes we may receive positive feedback from editors or critique partners about our stories. This truly helps to build our confidences as writers. At least it does for me.

            My college memoir editor told me I’ve found my voice in the story. When we speak of voice in story, we are talking about the character’s voice, which shares much with its author—even in fiction. I’ll talk more about voice and narrator in my Author Toolbox post later this month. But for now, I wanted to mention what my editor shared with me. She explained that my memoir character’s voice is how I would normally speak, especially the wry wit part.

As a highly insecure writer, I needed my editor to confirm--and she did--that my memoir story held:
questioning of what I was doing,
wondering if I'll succeed.

But it needed to be interesting, and what makes it interesting, the editor says, is hearing me tell it in my own way—in my voice, with all the funny parts with family and classes that made the editor smile and root for me.

You see, I thought for a book-length project [this is my first], I needed to fully paint a scene, to delve deeply into the why of the story, to stress over the needed tension, and worry that I’ve solved my problems too early. But my editor let me know it is all there. Not perfect, but it is there. As I continue to revise, I hope to be ready for beta readers by fall 2020. I’ll keep you posted! Let me know if you are interested in beta reading for me. This is a short memoir. I’ll be lucky if it is 60,000 words. Please contact me with your email address.

As for now, I’ll be interested to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s great having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey.

Thanks so much for visiting! Please follow Adventures in Writing if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in your comment so I can be sure to do the same for you.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.