In works of fiction, we think of “characters.”
When writing memoir, we think “real people.”
Let’s experiment with writing about real people as if they were characters in fiction.
Think of someone you know that you would like to spend some time writing about.
You can also do this for your fiction characters, if you are working on a fiction project.
Make a three-column list.
Column 1 What I know
Column 2 How I know it
Column 3 How to show it
Column 1 Write one or two-word descriptions about someone.
Column 2 How you know these characteristics.
For example, if the person is described as cheap, you might write, “contributes only $20, no matter his actual share, at a group dinner.”
Column 3 Jot down short notes on how you might show these characteristics
In the case of the cheap friend, “brings his teabag to use at restaurants.”
Connecting The Dots
How is this character, or how are these details, connected to you?
These connections are what make life meaningful and make your stories interesting.
These stories can also be about never connecting or missed connections.
Idea excerpted from The Writer magazine, June 2005, “Frank Talk About Writing Your Memoir,” by Sol Stein
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