Curiosity: forget “Cherchez la femme” (Look for the woman.) “Cherchez l’histoire.” (Look for the story.)
I posted nothing in September: I’ve been busy writing.
I mentioned womensmemoirs.com recently, after my submission to the food memoir/recipe contest was selected for their forth-coming e-book collection. In addition, I ordered and received my copy of Writing Alchemy by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnet, watched the first of a series of webinars that Matilda and Kendra are producing for people who buy the book, and began to apply the “deconstruction approach” to an especially crucial episode in my longer memoir.
All I can say is, “You’ve got to try it!” I began scribbling the same episode in August, before I received the book. I got the key incident OK, but the rest was simply a flat “telling” of pertinent backstory. Boring!
So, I faithfully walked through “the eight head-start steps to your first scene.” Two things happened: it was much more fun to write and my critique group of two liked the result much better. Writing detailed descriptions of each of the characters made a huge difference. I didn’t use the entire description in the scene, but writing down detailed features of each character brought them more vividly into view in my mind. I could see the scene happen, then I wrote it down. A novelist–I forget who–once wrote that he simply created a set of characters, then observed and recorded what they did. Maybe this is what he was talking about?
Now I’m trying to double-down by taking Cynthia Whitcomb‘s six week course: Basic Screenwriting. No, I don’t think my story should be a movie, but I do think that her techniques for developing a story arc will dovetail very well with suggestions from Writing Alchemy, and enable me create something that will appeal to a wider audience.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to transform the story into fiction. Wouldn’t that be fun?