Every article relating to:

Writing Alchemy

Crafting Distinctive Characters in Your Memoir

by Matilda Butler on April 7, 2015

catnav-alchemy-activePost #80 – Memoir and Fiction, Writing Alchemy – Matilda Butler

How About a New Way to Think of Characters?

For my birthday, a friend sent me a clever card. It was so clever that I kept it on my desk for more than a month. Each time I picked it up and read it, I tried to go deeper than just the words. I tried to figure out why I was so attracted to it.

Then finally, it hit me. The card was intriguing because it presented a message from a different point of view. The message came in the form of advice from a dragonfly.

memoir writing and characters

Yes, I said dragonfly. Above is the beautiful card. In case you can’t read the message, let me share the words before showing you how you can use this perspective to dig more deeply into the characters you are writing about in your memoir.

Advice from a Dragonfly

Spend time near the water
Be colorful
Enjoy a good reed
Zoom in on your dreams
Appreciate long summer days
Keep your eyes open
Just wing it!

A Memoir Writer’s Perspective

This card is clever because it takes the perspective or point of view of the dragonfly. This means that the writer had to know something about dragonflies. For example, the writer knew that dragonflies have different beautiful colors. They are not drab, for example, like the female house sparrow. So by knowing about dragonflies the writer probably wrote down something like “colorful.” That’s the view of looking TOWARD the dragonfly. Then the writer turned around and presented the information FROM the dragonfly’s perspective. This comes to us as advice to “Be colorful.”

Memoir writers write about other people in their lives. They frequently tell the reader about the person. This is similar to looking TOWARD or AT the person. But it is only once you dig deeply enough to really understand that person that you can write more closely FROM his or her perspective.

For example, when you think about your mother’s life, you might write that she led a regimented life. This is when you look TOWARD her. But as you examine what that means…in what ways she led a regimented life…then you might write that she urged you to rise at a regular hour each morning on weekends as well as during weekdays. She may have expounded on the virtues of early rising. This is the FROM perspective.

Try the writing prompts below and see if they help you understand the power of including the FROM.

Memoir Writing Prompts

1. Think of an animal (pet or in nature) that you enjoy. Write about that animal. Consider just creating a list. This will be all the things that you know about the animal. Imagine you are looking (both figuratively and literally) TOWARD the animal. Next turn your list around and imagine it as the FROM perspective. Then come up with your list of Advice from XXX, where XXX is the animal. You can use the Advice from a Dragonfly as your inspiration.

2. It is great to do a writing prompt that expands your range of creativity. That is the point of the previous prompt. Then you can apply what you’ve learned to your own memoir writing. Let’s do that now. Decide on one person in your memoir that you want to develop more fully. Write two lists. In the first, write a set of points that are the result of you looking TOWARD the person. Now, turn that around. Let as many of your points as you find appropriate become advice FROM the person.

This exercise helps you look more deeply at the people you write about. You give them an opportunity to have their own voice in your story.

Enjoy.

{ 0 comments }

Memoir is About the Little Things Too

by Kendra BonnettMarch 17, 2014
Memoir is About the Little Things Too

What do you think belongs in a memoir? It’s not only about earth shattering drama. The elements of everyday life, when well written are also engaging.

Read the full article →

Emotions and Joy: 6 Writing Tips and a Writing Prompt

by Matilda ButlerOctober 16, 2013
Emotions and Joy: 6 Writing Tips and a Writing Prompt

Our lives and our life stories are filled with emotions. How do you express emotions in your writing? Today’s article gives you 6 writing tips.

Read the full article →

Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There! 3 Tips for Letting Time Work for Your Memoir

by Pamela Jane BellOctober 8, 2013
Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There! 3 Tips for Letting Time Work for Your Memoir

Pamela Jane Bell returns with three more great writing tips — this set focused on how you can let the passage of time help you with your writing. Finally, tips on the advantages of not writing.

Read the full article →

Writing Tip: Writing and Canoeing

by Matilda ButlerSeptember 9, 2013
Writing Tip: Writing and Canoeing

Tips on incorporating new knowledge and skills into your writing.

Read the full article →

Tips for Showing Emotions in Your Writing

by Matilda ButlerSeptember 1, 2013
Tips for Showing Emotions in Your Writing

Check out our 1-minute video and see if you can tell all the ways that we show emotions. Then see how you’ll apply showing emotional states in your writing

Read the full article →

Tips for Show Don’t Tell: A Guide for Writing

by Matilda ButlerJuly 30, 2013
Tips for Show Don’t Tell: A Guide for Writing

Women’s Memoirs brings you a fun way to think about Show Don’t Tell — inspired by a musical. Use this tip when writing your memoir.

Read the full article →
Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category News Category News Category News Category