In some ways, I'm excited about finishing and getting back to work, using some of my new thoughts and advice from this week. But I hate to think the time spent in these workshop sessions will be no more.
Today started out with a lecture by Nahid Rachlin on writing memoir. She read from her book Persian Girls and spoke very briefly about why to write memoir. "Unless you're famous, why would anybody read your life?" The writing. Write characters as interesting as those in fiction and use words that sing. I'm hearing that a lot this week.
When I asked Ann Hood that question in our afternoon workshop, she said nonfiction's like everything else we write. Why write? To make sense of the world.
And good writing is crucial. Vibrant and lively language move a story. To illustrate her point, she read from Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan, especially noting the verbs-- dangle, bend, glide, snow sifting. And the metaphors and similies (No weird similes that stop the reader in his tracks!)
Then we talked about flashbacks. Ann's a big fan of space breaks and says sometimes this is a better way to introduce a flashback, no matter what we learned about using a memory prompt- a device such as hearing the ringing of a bell. (Though I still think in writing for children, it might have to be clearer than just a space break.)
Other tips from today?
Always use said as a dialog tag. The actual dialog should tell you if it's a shout, a hiss, a query.
Not "Sarah Elizabeth, come here this second," Mama hissed.
Actually, I kind of like that. But in writing for adults and especially memoir, cut the hisses and the smiled dialog as much as possible.
In memoir- get rid of all the I remembers, I recall, I thought back. Just slows us down.
Lots more advice as we critiqued our two classmates today. That's what I like about this class. The instructor actually teaches as she critiques.
Throughout the almost three hour session, Ann shared several more book recommendations, many new to me. List to follow. Next week.