Tuesdays with Story
June 4, 2015
Who’s up next . . .
June 9: Carol Hornung (scene), Ruth Imhoff (???), Jack Freiburger (???), Jeannie Bergmann (???), and Jen Wilcher (???).
June 16: Lisa McDougal (chapter, Tebow Family Secret), Alicia Connolly-Lohr (chapters 22, Coastie Girl), Mo Bebow-Reinhard (???), Kashmira Sheth & Amit Trivedi (chapter, novel), Bob Kralapp (???), Judith McNeil (???), and Jerry Peterson (chapters 9-12, Killing Ham).
June 30: Fifth Tuesday!
July 7 : Pat Edwards (???), Kashmira Sheth & Amit Trivedi (chapter, novel), Cindi Dyke (chapter, North Road), Millie Mader (chapter 64, Life on Hold), and Andy Brown (chapters, The Last Library).
Yes, our next Fifth Tuesday is less than four weeks away . . . June 30. We will gather at Panera’s on University Avenue, so this is an order-off-the-menu dinner evening.
Your writing challenge: Write a two-sentence story . . . beginning, middle, and end in just two sentences. The subject? Your choice.
Our June editor . . .
Kashmira Sheth takes over next week as editor for Writers Mail. If you have good stuff you would like included in next week’s issue, please send it to her.
Report from the June 2nd meeting. Thank you Amber for taking the notes.
Alicia read from Chapter 20 or Coastie Girl. Jerry asked if this was the first time the character was at the church. It was, so he wanted to know how she knows the man who comes over is the minster. Pat and Lisa thought a character came off as creepy. Jerry suggests the ethnicity of a character change. Kashmira is looking for some sense of the destruction. Lisa had a word change suggestion. The end of one chapter left Jerry not wanting to read further – Pat cut that part out. She also had an issue with what happens in a reference to a black hole.
Pat read her poem, Candy Town. Lisa said this sounds like a place her mother warned her not to go, but she went anyway. Millie had a question about using the word “napalm.” Amber wondered if some of the punctuation could go away. Lisa wanted each “boom” to have its own line, perhaps followed by “more” having each of its own.
Kashmira read the last few poems of Turban Boy, a novel in verse. Pat pointed out the number of great cultural elements that Kashmira included and thought they were great. A few of us thought one character was older than he is because of his anger. Alicia thought it was a bit intense and thought adding some friends could provide lighter moments. Cindi didn’t think the main character needs any friends.
Cindi read from the beginning of Chapter Fifteen. Millie thought there was a lot of great dialogue in this chapter. Lisa disagreed and didn’t get the chemistry between the two characters. Pat thought they were also very low-key flirters and suggested replacing some smiles with more physical gestures. Jerry didn’t know Tessa was a dog.
Millie read from Chapter Sixty-three. Jerry pointed out that the doctors and the staff at least in part knew who Scott is. Pat wanted to know why the main character isn’t talking to Scott (who is her fiancé ) and touching him and trying to reassure herself that he’s alive. She thought it was better if the doctor came in later and wanted to talk to her about his condition. Alicia wondered if the main character will have a moment when she acknowledges all the worst-case scenarios, including being single again.
I would like to share this post I wrote for a website of an Australian Author. I hope you enjoy it.
From life experience to fiction
Often, the first book by many writers is autobiographical. This is not as strange as it sounds. Writing from something we have experienced, physically as well as emotionally, is a good place to begin. When we know the interior and external landscape well it is easier to fictionalize it and make it deeply touching.
The emphasis here is on fictionalizing. It is difficult to take all of our experiences and put it in our story (of say the sophomore year of high school) the exact way it has happened. What is needed is to trim all the extraneous, unrelated events, then adding scenes from our imagination to make the plot more exciting and gripping and to give our story an arc.
It is also important to have characters that are unique and interesting to the readers. In high school one may have many friends and even more acquaintances but in the novel one must replace them with a few unique characters that move the plot forward, the ones that matter to the story. It is also important to make sure that none of the people that you actually knew twenty years ago can identifiy themselves when they read the story or when someone who went to school with you can identify them. Instead take different attributes from people, add your own imagination to give them unique personalities and traits and flash them out on the story. At once they are your own and yet they are truly believable multi-dimensional characters that readers can relate with.
The physical space where the story takes place can also be constructed from your experience as well as imagination. Again, if you add an interesting courtyard to the red brick building of your high school it might make it more vivid and interesting. Whatever you add can be uses in setting scenes that are unique to that space further enriching your story.
The emotional growth of your characters is one place where you can use your own feelings much more deeply. If you are writing about the summer between you sophomore and junior year you can go back to your emotional state of that summer. Was it the summer of— heartbreak, angst, rebellion, disappointment, or sorrow? How did you survive and persists? What did you learn? How did that one pivotal summer made you grow and change? These emotional nuggets can be taken from your very personal journey. While writing a story you may be surprised to discover more emotional depth and understanding of that time.
I believe this is why many author’s first book is autobiographical. When you write from your own emotional core it feels solid and real. As a writer we may be capable of writing an intriguing story, imagining many scenes and setting, and inventing colorful and unique characters. Still, the emotional truth of the story is sometimes hard to come by. Writing a story from our own emotional experience creates resonance and depth that make readers fall in love with our characters, our story.