I have always loved taking workshops–and I still do! I love the notebook and the pen I decide to use, the process of picking it out, getting ready to take notes, attending to new ideas. A classroom previously in my life was a place of peace and power–where the mind mattered and the soul could roam free amidst poetry and snippets of dream. Now these workshops often occur online, but the same process happens–the notebook, the pen, and computer notes as well.
In a workshop you get to use your left brain–for focus and clarity–and your right brain for creativity and connection0–it’s an integrative exercise. I teach three workshops a week online, and love the interaction, the questions, and the collective energy that is generated by these workshops. Memoir writers dig deep, ask pithy questions, and are always working hard to get the deep emotional story across while also building a world in which to invite the reader.
Some ways you can build this imaginative world:
- Use sensual details to describe and show people (characters), setting–landscape, buildings, sky, weather, how things smell–the aroma of fresh cut grass or bread baking, oil from an engine, the sounds of your world–birds, airplanes, cars, voices, wind, and the texture of that world–spiky, oily, smooth, rough. As readers we drop into your world through our bodies and senses.
- Craft sentences that guide the reader smoothly into prose that weaves a web, makes a promise, shows the reader where the author needs/wants him to go. Good writing creates a kind of magic where the reader is transported.
- Write dialogue that shows characters speaking authentically without lecturing. Think hard about how your grandmother or great-uncle spoke, your father, mother and best friend–the cadences of the words, dialect, accent, expressions–and use them in your writing. Read aloud, find the rhythm.
- Learn about structure, scenes, and how to choose narrator voices. Read books with these techniques in mind so you can learn from other authors.
More learning is available soon–a FREE workshop Thursday afternoon and a memoir course in 90 minutes at Writer’s Digest Thursday morning.
Here at NAMW at our Free monthly Roundtable discussion, Brooke Warner and I are going to talk about techniques and tips for writing your memoir–from structure to tools you need to create your memoir world. Sign up for this event to get an audio download after the workshop. We will be here and invite you to discuss memoir writing techniques, and ask questions about your memoir.
This Writer’s Digest Webinar is a full memoir writing course in 90 minutes! And you get a critique of your work as part of the cost.
We will cover everything from how to begin, writing the truth, writing as transformation, to techniques of scene, narrative, arc, plot and character development. You will receive the live course, the Q&A afterward along with the audio, and the free critique. Sign up here–and hope to see you there!
Linda Joy Myers
President of the National Association of Memoir Writers