If so, send me your Christmas vignette by December 10 and I’ll select one or more to publish here.
Spiff up your rough draft (or start writing it), keeping in mind the definition of memoir (click on What memoir is: Back to basics).
Remember, in writing memoir we go beyond digging up memories. Within our memories, we peel back layers to discover what was going on under the surface. Search for overlooked significance. We work to make sense of what God was doing in and for and through us, and others, at the time—and what it all meant.
“Rather than simply telling a story from her life,
the memoirist both tells the story
and muses upon it,
trying to unravel what it means
in the light of her current knowledge. . . .
The contemporary memoir includes retrospection
as an essential part of the story.
Your reader [is] interested in how you now,
looking back on it,
(Judith Barrington, Writing Memoir)
“The author must impose a coherence
on events he chooses to include
that may not have been present as he lived them. . . .
It’s that selectivity that transforms a memoir
from a report to a reflection
which gives meaning to the events
which might not have been evident to the author
as she lived them.”
(The Author’s DualRole in a Memoir, by Biff Barnes)
Capture sweet moments, hilarious events, personality quirks, tragic loss, courageous decisions, integrity, tenacity, or high adventure—all make for great reading.
Character development: Each person is complex. Develop your main characters’ shortcomings, redeeming qualities, beliefs, prejudices, body language, tone of voice, attitudes, and quirks.
Was he sentimental or no-nonsense? Comical or dour? Consistent or inconsistent? Gentle or gruff? Did she stand tall or did she slouch? Was he optimistic or pessimistic? Did she stress the importance of table manners? What else was important to him?
|picture in public domain|
Emotions: Incorporate emotions—about happy, joyful events as well as scary things and grief. Not all stories have happy beginnings or endings.
Allow readers inside your heart and mind.
Include your thoughts—even your struggles—to understand what was happening. Write of your delights as well as your doubts. Ask questions even if you have no answers.
You’ll find tips from Method Writing and from Kathleen Pooler’s post, Evoking Emotions: The power of Sensory Detail in Storytelling.
Also bring in adventure and humor where you can. Click on How to Add Humor to a Sad Memoir, Lisa Romeo’s post about how, why, and where to include humor in a sad memoir.
Sensory details: If you want readers to enjoy your stories, you must include sensory details. Invite them to see, hear, feel, taste, and smell what you experienced so they can enter your story with you.
Don’t miss our earlier posts, December’s Details for Your Memoir as well as Details: A must for your memoir. They’re packed with resources for you.
Your opening: A story’s beginning can make it or break it. It can invite readers in—or send them away. Most writers experiment with many openings before they get just the right one. Spend lots of time on your opening. Some don’t even try to write it until they’ve finished the main body of the story.
Check out these helpful links about writing your vignette’s opening. (Keep in mind these posts are about crafting the opening of an entire memoir, but they also apply to the opening of chapters/vignettes.)
Important: Click on this link to look at
Please submit a vignette that
has not been published before, or
is a story you published in the past
and it’s copyrighted in your name.
Aim at writing 1000 words or less in a Word document sent as an attachment to LindaKThomasAuthor [at] gmail [dot] com. (Replace [at] with @ and replace [dot] with a period, scrunch everything together, and your email should reach me.) Please write “Christmas vignette for SM 101” in the subject line so I’ll know it’s not spam. Thanks.
Ready, set, go!