Thursday, November 20, 2014

Details: a must for your memoir

If you want your readers to enjoy your stories—and keep reading—include sensory details. They add texture and interest and pizzazz—but they do so much more. Sensory details can make your stories come to life.

Your goal is to write so readers connect with you. Invite them to see, feel, hear, taste, and smell what you experienced so they can enter into your story with you. You want your experience to happen all over again for your readers.

Here are a few quotes to inspire you:

“In writing, imagery is the key
that can unlock a reader’s imagination.
When an image is rendered with the right combination of words,
it magically appears in the reader’s mind
like a photograph or a film clip.” 
Melissa Donovan,

“Concentrate your narrative energy on the point of change.…
When your character is in a new place,
or things alter around them,
that’s the point to step back
and fill in the details of their world.”
Hilary Mantel,
(emphasis mine)

“You must recreate how you experienced the places,
people and situations of your life experiences
through the senses.
Where you were and what was happening to you
originally came in through your ears,
 nose, tongue, skin, and eyes.
That is what the reader needs, too,
to experience your world and draw the conclusions you did.…
As writers we must learn to rely on the outer world
for the images a situation provides,
rather than relying on thoughts and summaries. 
Sure, those will come into our writing, at times,
but using them sparingly …
makes them all the more powerful. ”
Sheila Bender,
(emphasis mine)

“If you’re like most writers
the dominant sense is visual.
That’s because most of us write ‘by sight.’
That is, we include what we see and, sometimes,
what we hear.
Rarely what we smell, taste, or feel (as in the sense of touch).
If your writing tends to fall within this ‘mostly sight’ category,
you may fail to engage your readers.
If you want to write vivid memories,
then you must learn to remember vividly
not just see, but smell, taste, feel, and hear those memories.…”
Amber Lea Starfire,
“From Memories to Memoir, Part 3—Remembering Vividly
(emphasis mine)
(See the whole blog post for step-by-step tips on how to remember vividly.)

Related posts about sensory details
December’s details for our memoir: Touch and taste  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Tidbit: Spotting major flaws in your memoir’s opening

Here’s your 15 seconds of inspiration,
this week’s Tuesday Tidbit:

Prolific author Cecil Murphey said, “I once read more than one hundred of the entries for Christmas Miracles, a compilation book. The major flaw in at least a third of them was that they told us the ending before they told us the story.”

How are you doing on your memoir’s beginning?

Matilda Butler offers brief but oh-so-practical tips on making your memoir’s opening sparkle. Check out her writing prompts at Now It’s Your Turn.

Related posts :

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Let’s tell the next generations, that all will go well with them

Remember, your children were not the ones
who saw and experienced the Lord your God:
His majesty, His greatness, His awesome power.
It was not your children who saw
what he did for you in your desert wilderness
and how He brought you to this place.
No, you saw these things with your own eyes.
Deuteronomy 11:2-7


We’ll tell the next generation
the Lord’s marvelous deeds, His power,
and the wonders He has done,
so the next generation can know, too—
even children not yet born—
and so they in turn will tell their children.
Our purpose, our hope,
is that they’ll put their trust in God
and remember all He has done
and will keep His commands
so that all will go well with them.…
Psalm 78:4b, 6-7; Deuteronomy 12:28

Pray that [God will] fill your good ideas
and acts of faith
with his own energy
so that
it all amounts to something.
2 Thessalonians 1:11, The Message

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Giants? or The Promised Land?

What “giants” have you faced? Did you let them win, or did you decide to be an overcomer?

In writing my second memoir, I’ve discovered that I let giants intimidate me. My first inclination is to run the opposite direction. How about you? Know what I mean?

Remember the story of Caleb and Joshua?

God told Moses to send 12 men into Canaan, the Promised Land, to check it out. When Caleb, Joshua, and their companions returned, they gave it a mixed report: It was a magnificent country, flowing with milk and honey, but defeating the people would be daunting. Their cities were big and fortified, and the people were very powerful—some were even giants. Conquering the land God had promised them would be an enormous, risky undertaking.

But Caleb said, “Let’s go! We can do it!” He recognized the land was God’s gift to them and that He would help them take the land. He was willing to step out in faith and in God’s strength.

But the other men cowered. “We can’t win. They’re stronger than we are. We felt like grasshoppers next to those giants!”

Their fears were contagious—they infected all the Israelites with their pessimism. They feared they could be killed or carried off as slaves. They wept and wailed and complained. Their solution: “Let’s get out of here!”

Their fears rendered them faithless and helpless because they focused on the giants—problems, challenges, and dangers. They focused on how small and weak they were compared to the giants.  Failure was certain. That attitude resulted in double trouble: not only did the Israelites expect defeat: those giants then believed the Israelites were as weak as they thought they were.

Caleb and Joshua said to the doubters, “If God is pleased with us, He will keep us safe and give us the land. Don’t rebel against Him, and don’t be afraid of those giants! With God on our side, we can conquer them.” (See Numbers 13:1-14:9.)

Caleb and Joshua focused on God. In faith, they looked beyond the giants and beyond the Israelites’ weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Their courage was not based on the Israelites strength, but on God’s strength and His promises.

God can do extraordinary things with ordinary human beings who trust Him.

What giants have you faced in the past?

Giants can take many forms: a besetting sin, fear, lying, selfishness, family disputes, financial problems, abuse, conflicts within church congregations, rebellious children, false accusations, a serious illness, or dangerous situations.

Did you set your eyes on the giants, or on God? Did you retreat in defeat, or did you step forward and take possession of your Promised Land?

Write about a time when you focused on the giants, and then write about a time when you focused on God and His help in establishing you in your Promised Land.

While you write, keep in mind the definition of a memoir: Reflect on what God was doing back then, and how you have changed as a result.

What “milk and honey” did you receive as a result of your trust in God? What “milk and honey” would you have missed if you had turned back out of fear and faithlessness?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tuesday tidbit: The pages of your life

Here's your 15 seconds of inspiration,
your Tuesday Tidbit:

Your stories are important.
Future generations need to know them.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What are you doing with the time you have left?

How are we using the waking hours of our days?

Are we spending time doing something that will last longer than just a few months or years?

Are we investing our hours and talents in something that can outlive us?

Some people drift through life

without pondering deep questions

without wondering about life’s purposes.

It’s easy to get caught up in the here and now: getting to work on time, paying bills, putting money in savings, keeping up with housework and yard work, following our favorite sports teams, and exercising.

And we must do grocery shopping, laundry, meal prep, dishes, and car maintenance.

And we make efforts to raise good kids, and we drive them to soccer games and baseball practices, and maybe we even help coach those teams.

Some of us take Bible studies and volunteer at church and in the community.

And we keep up with friends—Facebook, texting, email, hanging out.

Now, those are good and important things, but living life well is so much more.

Deep down we really want to make a difference. We want to be a blessing, to make a lasting impact that leaves our corner of the world a better place for our family and friends.

We can do that only if we are intentional. And committed. And tenacious.

We must take seriously what Jesus said: “Go back to your family and tell them everything God has done for you” (Luke 8:39).

The Old Testament tells us, “Let each generation tell its children of [God’s] mighty acts; let them proclaim [His] power” (Psalm 145:4).

And of course there’s our theme verse here at SM 101, “Always remember what you’ve seen God do for you and be sure to tell your children and grandchildren!” (Deuteronomy 4:9).

You don’t know how much longer you’ll have to write your stories. I don’t know how much longer I’ll have.

Writing stories for families should be on everyone’s bucket list.

We must to give priority to writing our stories because when we do, we’re investing in the eternal for the sake of our families. There’s no better way to spend our time!

Tony Evans says,

“When you invest your time, talent,
and treasure in the eternal,
your investments have a Divine return.”

That’s our goal—that Divine return. We might not live long enough to see the goal fulfilled, but it’s a worthy goal nevertheless: writing a memoir that will have a Divine return in our family members’ lives.

Love the Lord your God with all
your heart
and your soul
and your strength.
Commit wholeheartedly to
these commands that I give you today.
Impress them upon your children.
Talk about them when you’re at home
and when you’re traveling,
when you’re lying down and when you’re getting up.
Tie them as reminders on your hands
and bind them to your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses
and on your gates—so that
you and your children may flourish.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9, Deuteronomy 11:18-20

You are part of a story much bigger than yourself, and God has entrusted you with stories only you can write.

Don’t drift through life.

Writing your memoir will require you to ponder deep questions,

examine God and His Word,

grapple with God’s purposes for your life,

and recognize, maybe for the first time, just how involved God has been—sometimes in miraculous ways, but mostly in everyday ways.

Writing your memoir, and what you uncover in the process, will be among the richest experiences of your life. It can fortify your faith. Writing your memoir is one way to honor God and it will shower blessings upon your readers. It’s a win-win situation!

Brooke Warner observed that “… before a memoir can become a memoir, it’s a seed of an idea—planted into the writer who is available and ready.”

Are you available? Are you ready?

Write your stories!