NAMW August Member Teleseminar–Marcia Butler
August 18, 2017
11 AM PDT 12 PM MDT 1 PM CDT 2 PM EDT
One of the greatest compliments I received when my memoir was published was hearing from reviewers and readers alike that my book “read like a novel.” Most memoirs have a gripping tale to tell, which is vital not only from a publisher’s standpoint, but also for the expectation of the devoted reader of this form. Yet, skillful and nuanced storytelling must be a goal not only of the novelist but of memoirists as well.
After all, there is only one difference between fiction and memoir. In the case of a novel the plot is made up. But the memoirist knows the story and all the characters. We know how the protagonist will succeed and fail; who lives and who dies. The memoirist is in full command of thoughts, feelings, memories, the beginning and the ending. Novelists make their decisions throughout the writing process, tossing out characters and plot threads that don’t serve the narrative.
But memoirists know the stakes from the very beginning and it is our job to tell our story with compassion, craft and intelligence. We must keep the reader turning the pages, eager to see what happens next by pacing the action, by writing believable dialogue and by creating chapters that satisfy as a whole. Just like a great novel.
In my teleseminar, I’ll show you how to tell your life story with the skill and nuance of a novelist.
- Build your world view
- The process of selecting scenes for inclusion – must we tell everything?
- How to make a distant yet important memory come to life
- Short lens and long lens as a way to create depth and space in a scene
- Writing from anger and grief – keep this in check and remain be a believable character/writer
- Craft dials apply to memoir too – use the senses
- Some characters do not warrant page space – choose carefully
- Know what your story (plot) is – life is big but a book can contain only so much
- How to get your character “across the room” – tools to elide gaps in time or compress time
Marcia Butler Short Bio:
Marcia Butler is the debut author of the nationally acclaimed memoir, The Skin Above My Knee. She was a professional oboist for twenty-five years until her retirement in 2008. During her musical career, she performed as a principal oboist and soloist on the most renowned of New York and international stages, with many high-profile musicians and orchestras – including pianist Andre Watts, and composer and pianist Keith Jarrett. Marcia was a 2015 recipient of a Writer-in-Residence through Aspen Words and the Catto Shaw Foundation. Her work has been published in Literary Hub, PANK Magazine, Psychology Today Magazine, The Aspen Institute, BioStories and others. She has written a novel which is currently out for sale to publishers. Marcia lives in New York City.