Memoir Writing Prompts: Dorothy Parker and Age

by Matilda Butler on June 12, 2012

Writing Prompt LogoPost #152 – Women’s Memoirs, Writing Prompt – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler





Women’s Memoirs Gets Inspiration from Dorothy Parker

Young_Dorothy_Parker, memoir writing promptsThis week I’m the invited guest editor on SheWrites. If you don’t know the site, be sure to go over and check it out. Anyone can read posts and, if you like, you can become a member and have your own blog on the site at no charge.

Dorothy Parker recently came back to my attention. The hotel she and other writers made famous, the Algonquin, has just reopened with my fanfare after six months of renovations. There is an interesting article in Saturday’s Salon.com. called My Dorothy Parker Years by Jennifer Wright who described how she first went to the Algonquin with her mother when we was 15 and how she saw a portrait of Dorothy Parker that caused her to fall in love with Parker stories.

It was in Wright’s article that I first learned of the intersection between Matilda and the Algonquin. Not me, but a cat named Matilda. It seems that during the years of the Round Table literary lunches, a cat appeared in the hotel and was adopted by the staff. John Barrymore suggested that it couldn’t just be called Cat, that it needed a name. So the hotel owner named it Hamlet, a name given to all male cats since then. And female cats? They are all named Matilda.

I’m sharing a series of quotes and poems by Dorothy Parker all week. There are so many great ones that I decided to post some here on Women’s Memoirs and some on SheWrites. I hope you’ll join me both places. I’ve chosen ones that are intriguing enough to have inspired one or more writing prompts.

Dorothy Parker and Character Development

Dorothy-Parker-character, Dorothy Parker poem, memoirIn this Parker poem, “Indian Summer,” we find one way to show character development in our writing. A young person, especially a young female, is more likely to make herself into the type of person that her boyfriend wants. I remember that one of the women I interviewed for our collective memoir, Rosie’s Daughters, told the story behind her three marriages. Each time, she became a different person with new interests that matched those of the name she perceived to be the love of her life. But she, like others, has finally become her own person.

Memoir Writing Prompt:When describing a person in your memoir, consider ways that she changes over the years. Is she eager to please others when young and eventually content to please herself? Does she continue to shape herself to match the interests and desires of others. These types of points let the reader see and better understand the character.

Write for five minutes about one person in your memoir. Describe how true she is to herself across the years. Some people can never achieve this comfort with their own core.

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Be sure to return tomorrow and the rest of this week when we share the best of Dorothy Parker.

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PS Character development is the focus of one of our chapters in Writing Alchemy: How to Write Fast and Deep. We’ve just extended our special pre-order price until June 25. Be sure to take advantage of this price. We’ve added a new feature to the manuscript and had to go back to the layout stage again, hence the delay.

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