3. Don’t let the grammar police win!
Slide 3 of 5
For most of us, when we sit down to write, we’re not alone. In that opening sentence, suddenly, unbidden, our 8th-grade grammar teacher shows up at our elbow warning us against dangling modifiers, run-on sentences, and the improper use of the semicolon.
Our literature teacher goads us on the other side, reminding of the Literary Greats. An hour later, still sweating and laboring over the third sentence, we give up.
Don’t let perfection silence your story!
Don’t aim for perfection. Write messy and fast, especially as you begin. Remember, this is rescue work. Every story you write is a story saved from the Closet of Forgetting. It is priceless and precious, no matter its grammatical state. Address craft and editing in the next draft, as you revise. If grammar and mechanics still stress you out in that later stage, ask for help.
4. Recreate the outer story through vivid scenes.
As you begin to capture your essential stories, start with the outer story. The outer story is the event itself, what happened: when you took your family on a missions trip and the van broke down in the middle of Mexico City. When your husband survived his heart attack. The inner story is the deeper story that reflects upon the event. (More on this in #5.)
Take the reader with you on that mission trip or to the recovery room. Don’t tell your reader what happened, show them: Take them there directly so they can experience it along with you. How? Create scenes that are rich in sensory details. Help them see, smell, hear, feel what happened in those dramatic and quiet moments.
The best memoirs read almost like novels. Readers are drawn into the scenes, the setting, the experience, the characters. Keep them turning the pages.
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