You’ll need a book you want to read, a highlighter pen, and some stick on arrows like you see on legal documents that say: sign here.
Here’s what you mark up in the book:
l. Words, phrases, sentences you admire. That gave you a gut reaction.
2. Words that gave you an emotional hit. How did that author do that?
3. Plot points; characters made interesting; how?
4. Story points that pull in the reader.
Please add your own in the comments below.
- ‘Alex’s snub-nosed face sagged open. His blue eyes revolved incredulously.’ (Paul Anderson & Gordon R. Dickson, ‘Heroes are Made’ aka ‘The Sheriff of Canyon Gulch’, May 1951 Other Worlds Science Stories)
- ‘Huddled on the armchair where he’d sat to read until late last night, Helenka was embracing her retracted knees.’
- ‘Her anguish could be perceived only by the way her lips tightened in a peristaltic pucker.’ (both Ben Pastor, Lumen, 1999)
Eyeballs in the Sky
- ‘For a few seconds, behind Torstad’s eyes, something rattled its chains.’ (Poul Anderson, There Will Be Time, 1973)
- ‘Jim stared with all his eyes.’ (Isabel Ostrander, Anything Once, 1920)
Digital Commerce Dept
- ‘Daniel sat back, steepling his long fingers across his waistcoat. He bought them from a little shop in Brixton Market.’ (Paul McAuley, Something Coming Through, 2015)
Dept of But Can They Hear You Scream?
- ‘No one escapes from the imperial navy any more than they do from the mines of Evron. But at least in space I can breathe …’ (E.E. Smith and Gordon Eklund, Lord Tedric, 1978)
10:35 – 11:35 AM Toni will speak on “Mastering Editing Skills” Techniques that help the writer learn the all important skill of self-editing: Avoid The 10 Most Common Mistakes First Novelists Make. Insights you’ve not heard before from an agent.
Dept of Punchy Opening Lines.
‘At first there was only the cold, the Stygian inky iciness that held every muscle of his body in thrall and made his thoughts flow with the turgid slowness of treacly molasses.’ (Wilbur S. Peacock, ‘Spider-Men of Gharr’, Summer 1945 Planet Stories)
Quickness of the Hand Dept.
‘… he laughed, and before I could stop him, stroked my face with the speed of light.’ (Debbie Johnson, Dark Vision, 2014)
‘He stood tall, in fact even taller than he usually was.’ (Ibid)
Like a Huge Springing Beast Dept.
‘The redhead springs deep and soars through the air. Flying like a spread-eagled amoeba …’ (Kieran Shea, Koko Takes a Holiday, 2014)
Dept of Useful Add-Ons.
‘He rose to his spare elbows.’ (Charles E. Gannon, Fire with Fire, 2013) [AL]
Shock of Hair Dept.
‘His ginger hair with its generous dashes of grey sat on his head like an electrified cat.’ (J.D. Robb [Nora Roberts], Strangers in Death, 2008)
“When I was in the middle of writing Eat Pray Love and I fell into one of those pits of despair that we will fall into when we’re working on something that’s not coming and we think ‘this is going to be a disaster, this is going to be the worst book I’ve ever written — not just that but the worst book ever written … So I just lifted my face up from the manuscript and I directed my comments to an empty corner of the room and I said aloud ‘ Listen you, thing! You and I both know that if this book isn’t brilliant that is not entirely my fault, right? Because you can see I am putting everything I have into this, I don’t have any more than this, so if you want it to be better then you’ve got to show up and do your part of the deal, OK? But you know what? If you don’t do that then I’m going to keep writing because that’s my job and I would please like the record to reflect today that I showed up and did my part of the job!” – Elizabeth Gilbert, author Eat Pray Love
Writing our own stories helps us see the narrative thread in our lives, reflect on the consequences of events and maybe find redemption or closure. Life stories, memoirs, autobiographies — whatever term we use–have been wildly popular for the past twenty to thirty years. In the 1990’s Frank McCourt‘s Angela’s Ashes and Mary Karr‘s The Liar’s Club, among others, sparked an enthusiastic response among readers that has yet to subside. Memoirs have elbowed their way into book discussion groups. Issues of truthfulness in memoirs have become front page and talk show news. Reality TV shows and social networking sites on the Internet, blogs, oral history organizations like StoryCorps, and an explosion of information sources about the life of celebrities, proclaim our fascination with this genre. The most popular nonfiction has a personal aspect to it. Popular histories focus on the role of the individual, self-help books reveal the struggles of the author, and true crime is always popular. Cookbooks are filled with personal stories about the cook and her family.
The best memoirs are shaped like novels: with a beginning, full of exposition and character development; a middle, often with climactic events; and an ending that ties up what came before with a satisfying resolution. We know that in fiction, the writer has used memory, experience, imagination, and all the tools of creative writing. What we must know is that memoir writers make use of the same creative toolkit.