Archive for the ‘Non-Fiction Writing’ Category

Ever Consider Writing a Memoir?

August 18, 2019

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

I was talking to an old friend recently, and we were both having trouble remembering details from our high school years. Neither one of us could remember the name of our home room teacher.

One of the comments made that had us both laughing was, “well, there goes the memoir.”

But is that true?

So what if you have trouble remembering specific details from the past? After a long passage of time (and going back to my high school years certainly qualifies for that) things can be rather fuzzy.

If this were enough to stop people from writing their memoirs, there would be no such genre. However, memory only acts through the act of remembering. And what does that require?

Only an imagination.

Something most good fiction authors have tons of at their disposal.

I’ve written about this before. The subject of all memoirs, after all, is memory, and memory cannot exist without the imagination.

I like to think of the people in memoirs as characters. A great memoir pulls you into their lives; shows what they struggle with, what they are successful at and what they wonder about.

Many of the best memoir writers focus on a few key characteristics of their characters, allowing the reader to get to know each one in depth. After all, your readers must be able to either love your characters or hate them, and you can’t provide too much detail.

Also, good memoirs introduce intriguing settings and show readers the locations you describe. Don’t be afraid to evoke emotions. Readers need to experience your story, almost as if it was their own.

You need imagination, not in the sense of inventing things, but in binding together the facts. What you know for a fact is one thing; but what you remember matters every bit as much.

Leave your readers with their mouths open in awe, laughing hysterically, or crying with sadness – or, better yet, all three. Take them on an emotional journey that provokes them to read the next chapter, and then tell their friends about your book when they finish.

Is There Any Risk?
Fiction is frequently inspired by real people or events, but it’s still ambiguous. Memoir, on the other hand, is direct and explicit, and carries some definite risks.

For instance, no matter how carefully you try to avoid it, a memoir is bound to annoy someone.

To be true to yourself, you should not use this as an excuse not to write a memoir. “I can’t write this until so-and-so dies” is more likely a crutch than a valid reason not to write.

Consider the possible ramifications, sure. But write for yourself. I believe in writing what obsesses you. It may be why I have three new novels in the works, with my own memoir already coming to a slow boil on the back burner of my mind.

**********

I will be joining other authors signing books from 1:00-4:00 at the Orion Township Library Local Artist & Author Fair on September 28, 2019.

**********

Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my two local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Writing Your Own Life Story

April 14, 2019

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

I believe the wisdom and power to create real change lives not only in the experiences of leaders and community builders … but in the things that happen to everyday people all over the world. Each one of us has a story born from our life experience.

We often forget, by offering up our stories we can help others understand their own. We build a structure with our truth so other people can shelter there. In this way, a memoir is not self-indulgent but a road map for the human experience.

Your story also deserves to be told but, unless you’re someone really famous, it’s probably your own responsibility to tell it. Are you ready to share your life story with the world?

Develop a Concept
A memoir captures a period of time or a set of events in your life, rather than cataloging your experience from cradle to grave (that’s an autobiography or biography).

In order to appeal to an audience beyond your friends and family, you must bridge the gap between your life and that of your reader.

Most aspiring authors feel overwhelmed before they even begin. Below are some tips to help you on your way to sharing your story.

You need a solid concept that invites the reader’s concerns into the experience. To get them reading, it has to be more than something saying, “Let me tell you all about wonderful me.”

Consider the elements of your story that are universal and find ways to write them so your reader can imagine their own life through the lens of your circumstances.

Make It Memorable
You can make your nonfiction book as memorable as its fictional counterparts by using sensory language. By that, I mean language that conveys how you felt, what you saw, heard, smelled, and tasted during the scenes you present.

Before you write a pivotal scene, take yourself back to the place, time, and emotion of the moment. Once you’ve transported yourself back to that moment, write your scene.

When you’ve gotten it down on the page, go back and look for ways to vary your language to make it richer and more interesting.

Break out your thesaurus if that helps!

Include Details
Writing in detail takes time to develop, but not as much as you might think. It has helped me in my own writing. View the world in small sections. That limited focus can help you really hone-in on detail.

Construct your book scene-by-scene, moment-by-moment. See the minutiae … the crack etched in the sidewalk cement, the one green pea that rolled under the table, the rim of grease under the thumbnail of your father as he cuts the Thanksgiving turkey. When you add detail to your writing, you are painting with words, and you can use all the colors!

Details like that make the difference, so show them to your readers!

Your Story is Exceptional
You’ve lived through, learned, discovered, or developed something, and you’re still busy living your life. You’re out accomplishing things. What better time is there to write a book about your own life story than now? Don’t keep it to yourself!

Believe it or not, someone out there may need your message. When you share what you know and what you’ve learned, you may become part of the solution for someone.

You may not think of yourself as a writer, but you can do anything you want to do. What do you have to lose? When will there ever be a better moment than now? You don’t need to learn the publishing industry or take writing classes to write your book. You simply need to get your message out into the world.

Writing a book about yourself is definitely a big hurdle, perhaps comparable to running a marathon. But, just like that epic race, once you do it, you may look back and want to do it again.

What are you waiting for?

**********

I’ll be joining other authors signing books at Detroit Festival of Books at Eastern Market on July 21 and at SterlingFest in Sterling Heights, Michigan on July 27.

**********

Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

I Didn’t Always Write Fiction

December 6, 2012

G. Washington Article An Article Written for the December 1983 Issue of “GM Today” © R.L. Herron

The headline of today’s entry is somewhat misleading. I’ve actually written fiction (and poetry) since I was seventeen. Most of it, with the exception of a couple of short stories and some poems, never saw the light of day in any publication.

In fact, most of it never even garnered a rejection slip.

Just like with today’s wannabe authors, rejections were not acknowledged … they were ignored. Somewhere, in a dusty brown cardboard box in the dim recesses of the basement, I’m sure I still have copies of most of the ones I did get. Sad, yellow-brown pages brittle now with age.

There were a few mimeographed (read xeroxed, for those too young to remember mimeos) and unsigned rejection letters, but those were infrequent and have long since been tossed into the same abyss my original submissions went into.

However, I did write and publish:

    The cold darkness was broken only by the sound of cargo boats being poled across an icy river. Desperation was written plainly in the faces of the men sitting in the boats. A young general stood in the lead boat staring ahead into darkness.

    Suddenly, there was a flash from shore. The entire group slumped. Instantly the shoreline came alive, not with cannon fire, but with conversation and activity.

    “Cut! Let’s do it again; and tell those people not to use flashbulbs again while we’re filming!”

The date was November 21, 1983. The scene was the re-creation of George Washington and 2,400 of his troops crossing the Delaware River on Christmas Eve 1777 on their way to attack the Hessian garrison at Trenton.

The original action was one of the first important victories for the Continental Army during the American Revolution. The re-creation is also a first for General Motors.

I found this example of one of my articles, published in the December 1983 issue of “GM Today” … an internal monthly newsletter distributed to all GM employees. The print run, at the time, was over 800,000, quite a respectable distribution. I remember this article very well.

The editor didn’t like it at all.

He’d sent me to cover a portion of the filming of the GM-sponsored made-for-television mini-series about the life of the young George Washington, starring Barry Bostwick and Patty Duke. I met and interviewed them both … and the director, Richard Fielder, on location at the filming of the re-creation of Washington’s historic crossing.

From his comments when I returned, my editor thought the article was too story-like and not the nuts-and-bolts information he wanted. Thankfully, the PR Vice President had seen … and liked … my article or it would have found its way into the waste receptacle, too.

Is the world today better simply because the article ran almost exactly as I wrote it?

Probably not. But my memory of it is.

“Reichold Street” a book trailer video © R.L. Herron

 


%d bloggers like this: