10H – 8 Dec 2014 – Writing Day

A quick reminder that your memoir review letter is due tomorrow by 8 a.m. Please post it to GoodReads and then email the link to your review to my mrsbpapers address to let me know the review has been posted. The requirements of this review are linked here for your reference.

We’ll meet for our regular Monday writing day today. In terms of your memoirs, a lot of folks are having trouble with making the action in a scene happen oftentimes, the actions are just implied or hinted at or talked about. I’ve been seeing this problem in nearly *every* memoir.

Remember that a key part of showing is DIRECT ACTION: I jumped, she fell, we saw.

For example, here’s a before-and-after from one of your peer’s papers. It might as well be from yours (seriously. Everyone is struggling with this. Everyone). Please note that I capitalized the verbs in the before/after so you could see them more clearly. Obviously, I do NOT want you to do that in your memoirs. 🙂

Before After
       It only took a split second for the reminder of my father, now alarmingly far away, to EMERGE, and then another split second for the loss of balance.

The salt water SEEPED into my raw palms. ouch.

       A split second later, I SAW how far I’d drifted from my dad.

A split second after that, I LOST my balance, and I FELL off the board into the water with a whoosh.

When I EMERGED, I could FEEL the salt water stinging my raw palms where I’d been holding the rope.

In the before, the action is only implied, not shown. In fact, the only things that ACTUALLY HAPPEN are a reminder emerging and salt water seeping. In the after, the action is shown directly. Lots of things ACTUALLY HAPPEN here: the narrator sees her drift, loses her balance, falls off the board, emerges from the water and feels the stinging of her palms.

If you’ve gotten comments from me like “I don’t know what’s happening here” or “I have no idea what’s actually going on in this scene” –> this is what I’m talking about. You need to make the scene happen. Put the verbs in.

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