Archive for the ‘Non-Fiction Writing’ Category

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?

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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.

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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;

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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.

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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

 

Ready. Set. Go.

January 2, 2012


“Hopscotch” © R.L. Herron

I made a resolution (sort of) to write in my blog every day in the new year. Here it is the second day of 2012 and I’ve already failed.

I didn’t miss by much, but this is my first official blog post of the new year so my batting average has already dropped to .500. There’s absolutely no way now to bring it to 1.000.

Looking at a brand new year stretched out in front of you this way certainly makes it seem daunting.

Does that mean I’m abandoning the effort? Of course not. I can still shoot for a respectable finish. Like most other large projects, it often takes breaking it into pieces to make it seem less intimidating.

Even the most organized-seeming among us have moments when they try to see too far ahead. Moments the most well-educated guess of what’s-to-come misses the target entirely. What do you do when that happens?

If you’re good at what you do, you pick things up, toss the stone again and shoot for the next square down the line. Simple as that.

The goal may not move, but the path to it often does. In the world of business, or just the game of life, you need to learn that and play the game accordingly.

I’m getting ready to e-publish some of my creative work. I have been for months.

Yet, I’ve hesitated for weeks as I waged a war in my head over publishing it in that way instead of following some of the more “normal” publishing avenues.

Then it occurred to me. What’s normal any more?

I remember, not that long ago, when many people (myself included) declared digital photography would never replace film … but it did.

Even more recently, another ill-informed prognostication – electronic readers will never replace books – was on the tongue of many well-meaning mystics. I myself couldn’t see giving up any of my beloved hardcover tomes for an e-Book.

But I did.

Oh sure, I was reluctant at first. I was going to be away from home for six weeks and knew I could not carry enough reading material to keep me occupied, so I bought my first Kindle. To get me through this inconvenience, I told myself.

Then I discovered this new way of reading was every bit as satisfying, much more efficient and a damned sight more convenient. The signs are all there.

Libraries are hurting for funding (I do find that distressing). A major bookstore chain has folded. The largest bookseller on the planet is Amazon, and a significant percentage of the content they sell is digital. Who am I to say it ain’t ever gonna happen.

Particularly since it already has.

I need to quit procrastinating and get my stories and books online before the next wave of change, whatever it may be, rolls over us all and I have to start thinking about it all over again.

 


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