So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label craft of writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label craft of writing. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Make your memoir entertaining

When writing memoir or creative nonfiction the writer must think about her audience.

While writing about her life, she wants to be sure to entertain the reader. If the story is not entertaining or interesting enough to grab the reader, the memoir, which takes a long time and much work to create, will end up on a high shelf where no one thinks about it or reads it.

How does the writer do that? How does she make her life stories entertaining?
She uses the elements of fiction that draw readers to novels.

How to Hold Your Reader

Include dialogue in memoir. Readers don't skip dialogue. If they get bored with too much narration or description that goes on and on, they skip to the paragraphs of dialogue. Write in scenes as in a play or movie. Interaction between characters. Include action when possible.

Just as we write fiction, we want to grab our readers on the first page, in the first paragraph. Recently I heard editors say they choose a manuscript to publish by reading the first page.

Beginnings are important but first, get the story down. I teach my students to write true stories that could become part of their memoir, but the purpose of my classes is to learn the craft of writing. What is written in class might not end up in the final manuscript, but in the process the student is learning the best way to write his story.

Glenda Beall, 6 Sessions, Tuesday, April 20 – May 25, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, 
Cost: $20 

In today's busy world, grandparents seldom have the opportunity to spend quality time with their grandchildren, to tell them stories about what life was like in the twentieth century. Younger generations will not learn in history books what we can tell them. Did you grow up on a farm or in a city? Did you serve in the military and when? In this class, you will be encouraged to remember the important events of your life and write those memories in an entertaining and informative manner. 

Glenda C. Beall writes and teaches writing from her home in Hayesville, NC. She is the author of three books and has published poetry, memoir, and fiction in numerous journals and magazines. She is the program coordinator for NCWN-West, a program of the North Carolina Writers' Network. For over twenty years she has taught senior adults to write about their lives for their families. In early 2020, she learned to teach online and enjoys seeing her students on her screen. T

Click on this link for registration information:

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Craft of Writing

My students at the ICL class going on at this time are already good writers. Those who studied with me in the past have improved and become quite knowledgeable about the craft.

I've been told that talented writers don't need to take writing classes. "If a person has talent, he shouldn't need to study writing."  Well, I disagree.

A person might be talented in visual arts - painting and drawing - but he needs help to learn about the colors and kinds of paint, the brushes he might need if he is painting a miniature instead of an 18 x 20 canvas. He might get this information from someone in a store or a friend, but somewhere he will need some help in the craft of painting.

Back in 1976, I decided to follow a goal of becoming a painter. I had not done any painting, so I found the perfect teacher for me. Her name was Verna. She was a fabulous teacher and I learned how to use oil paints, to use a fan brush, to use tools other than brushes for painting, how to create shimmering water and so much more. I enjoyed my classes and also enjoyed painting scenes from our farm in south Georgia.

Yes, talent is important, but it also takes time and perseverance to learn how to write. In my classes, I help my students make their stories entertaining as well as informative for the readers. How many want to read a book filled with facts that doesn't entertain us as well.

Two prompts I give my students to motivate them to write involve sketching. First I ask them to list all the houses they remember living in and then choose one to visit in detail. They draw an outline of the house and then draw in the rooms, just boxes on paper. The student goes through the house and in each space he notes the memories that come to him. In the kitchen he writes notes on who he sees there and what he smells and hears in that room. He goes on through this house and each room provokes memories of people and events that happened to him at a certain age.

One drawing like this will bring on a flood of memories that beg to be told. My mother is gone now, but I can see her in the kitchen making biscuits. I can see and smell the food, hear the radio playing in the other room just loud enough for Mother to keep up with the game show.

To be a good writer one must read, and I suggest read what you like to write. After taking classes, we learn to read in a different way. When we begin to read like writers we see so many things in books that surprise us, that open our eyes to what the author is saying, and that we remember.

Wherever you live, try to find a good writing teacher and good classes where you can grow and expand your own work.  Ask at the library or a local college. We need the right tools to write well. Sometimes taking one class will motivate a writer to jump in and begin that novel or memoir she has always wanted to write.