Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday Snippet: What sights will readers see in your memoir?


You want people to read your memoir. After all the effort you put into writing it, you want them to read it all the way to the end.

Here’s one way to encourage that: Include details so readers experience the story with you.

Wednesday I suggested adding details to your rough drafts, concentrating on sights—describing your vignette’s setting, its surrounding, its scenery. Write so readers can see the place as if they’re standing beside you.

Recently I ran across a good example at Ann Kroeker’s blog, Ann Kroeker. Writer. She captured the following childhood memories of spending a week with her grandmother each summer: 

… I loved waking up in the front bedroom under fresh sheets spread neatly on the big double bed, a loosely woven purple cotton blanket folded back. In the narrow, horizontal window, she displayed a collection of colored glass bottles. Light streamed in through the colors, morning magic. I blinked myself awake, rested and safe.

In my memory I can still walk through every room, from the baker’s cabinet in the corner of the kitchen to the day bed along the dining room wall; from the collection of gardening books on shelves in the living room, to the glass jar of leftover yarn balls sitting next to a chair in Grandma’s bedroom. It’s all still here, inside me.

I can still wander out the screen door and hear the spring stretch the wooden frame shut with a solid “thunk.” Under the grape arbor, I pluck a Concord grape, manipulating the skin off with my teeth to suck the sweet, cool insides and chew the sour skins before spitting them out. In my mind, Baby’s Breath still blooms white behind the garage and orange day lilies line the side of the house. For a while, my grandma made rag rugs on a loom that she set up on a small porch. I can see its threads and recall how the shuttle slipped across to bind the strips of cloth.”
Used by permission from Ann Kroeker,
Lynn Hopper photo

Did you feel like you were there beside Ann, moseying through her grandmother’s home? I did!

Ann included other sensory details, too: sound, taste, and feel. Nice work, Ann! Thanks for showing us around your grandmother’s place.

This week, I encourage you to start at least one new vignette. Review each story and add sensory details. Invite readers to experience your story alongside you.

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