Sunday, November 7, 2010

Writing About Family

At yesterday's Circle much of the reading centered around descriptions and memory of family.  For the writer, family serves as models for characters, whether we are writing fiction or memoir.

That said, the emotional and the healing aspects of storytelling come through reflection - not only about ourselves - but of key people in our lives.  The people are grist for our "mill" . . . our touchstone to making meaning and turning cardboard, one-dimensional characters into real people, while at the same time discovering our own humanity.

How do we remember or "see" them and how "true" is this?  And how do we find that "truth" of our parents, our spouses, our children, as it relates to us - and, hopefully, to the reader?  These are questions every writer faces when crafting his or her story.

While many are interested in just getting the recollections of a mother or father down on paper and seeing where that leads -  others are hoping to find the seminal moment  - the compelling reason why they are writing in the first place - and how to tackle that and make sense of what it all means.  Discovering that "moment" is when writing transforms into alchemy. 

As was noted in yesterday's Circle, I use a lot of dialogue to bring a scene alive having spent years as a reporter and being attuned to what people say.  Although actions speak louder than words, I do believe that dialogue is as key as showing movements or describing physical attributes.  What is at the heart of the dialogue/conversation and how it renders the scene emotionally compelling remain fodder for another day.

Once again I would encourage all of us to keep writing . . . keep writing . . . keep writing. Whether our family members/characters come to us in our dreams or through the written word, one thing is certain.  They continue to live with us.  Now it is up to us to see where that - and they - lead us.

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