Synopses & Reviews
No one looks at structure like Jesse Lee Kercheval. She builds a work of fiction just as an architect would design a house—with an eye for details and how all parts of a story or novel interconnect. Even with the most dynamic language, images, and characters, no piece of fiction will work without a strong infrastructure. Kercheval shows how to build that structure using such tools as point of view, characterization, pacing, and flashbacks. Building Fiction will help you envision the landscape of your fiction and build great stories there.
Every person has a story to tell, but few beginners know how to uncover their story's narrative potential. And despite a growing interest among students and creative writers, few guides to the genre of memoirs and creative nonfiction highlight compelling storytelling strategies. Addressing this gap, authors Lynn C. Miller and Lisa Lenard-Cook provide a compact, accessible guide to memoir writing that shows how an aspiring memoir writer can use storytelling tools and tactics borrowed from fiction to weave personal experiences into the shape of a story. Find Your Story, Write Your Memoir offers an overview of the building blocks of memoir writing. Individual chapters focus on key issues and challenges, such as the balance between the remembering narrator and the experiencing narrator, the capacity to honor the subjective voice, the occasion of telling (why does this narrator tell this story now?), creating an organically functional structure for a particular story, and taking the next steps with a written memoir. Drawing on their combined years of experience teaching memoir writing, authoring works of fiction and nonfiction, and working in autobiographical performance, Miller and Lenard-Cook provide a practical guide whose core philosophy is motivated by a key word: story.
About the Author
Lynn C. Miller is the author of the novels Death of a Department Chair and The Fool's Journey and coeditor of Voices Made Flesh: Performing Women's Autobiography. A playwright and solo performer, she is former professor of theater and dance as well as women's and gender studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Lisa Lenard-Cook is the PEN-shortlisted author of Dissonance, Coyote Morning, and The Mind of Your Story. She is a faculty member at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and at the Narrative Arts Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Together, they cofounded ABQ Writers Co-op, a creative community for Southwest writers.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1 The Occasion of the Telling: "It Begins Here because It's about This"A Place to StandIs It an Autobiography, or Is It a Memoir?It's about the StorytellerReliability and the NarratorTelling the Truth in MemoirThe Occasion of the Telling and Organizing the MemoirShe Died, so I RememberAnd Then, in an Instant, Everything ChangedNow and Then, Then and NowConsequence and the Occasion of the TellingExercises: Now, You Begin2 The Two Yous: Finding a Place to StandThe Remembering SelfThe Experiencing SelfThe Dance of the Two YousThe Power of TestifyingTaking Yourself by the HandNegotiating DualitySensory Cues as Keys to MemoryUsing Language and Imagery to Move between the Two YousThe Nature of MemoryFurther Spotlight Exercises3 Building a Narrative: Laying Down the BonesBeginning Your StoryCatalysts and ConflictsMapping the TensionExamples of StructuresChronological StructureCircular StructureAssociative StructureCollage StructureParallel StructureLocational StructureChoosing a StructureYou and Your AudienceCreating the World of Your StoryStructure and UnderstandingAdditional Spotlight Exercises4 Arranging the Scenes: Giving Them MuscleDramatic StructureOrdering the SceneCatalystConflictRising ActionReversalsClimaxDenouementParticularizing the MomentInternal ActionExternal ActionThe Emblematic ScenePutting It All TogetherFurther Spotlight Exercises5 Painting the Picture: Language and SettingThe Magic of ImageryUsing Figurative LanguageLanguage and Sense of PlaceSetting as MetaphorPlace as Time PeriodLanguage as ActionControlling TimeDialogueSilenceThe Secrets of Subtext6 Your Story, Your Voice: Make It Your OwnThe First-Person VoiceBetween Experience and RememberingBeyond First PersonYour Two VoicesYou, the NarratorYou, the CharacterVoices of the Masters"She Opened Herself Up a Worm Farm""The Fortuneteller Was Not Guilty""Reveal[ing] Those Demons That Obsess Him"The Shadowy Personage Who Commits the Actual Writing"The Capsules of Safety, and Freedom"Your Story, Your VoiceYou Are the CameraUsing What You Don't Know7 Honoring the Memoir Process: Taking the Next StepsRe-visioning Your ManuscriptRead It AloudPut It AwayTake It out of the ClosetAn Editorial ChecklistThe Occasion of the TellingThe Two YousBuilding a NarrativeArranging the ScenesPainting the PictureYour Story, Your VoiceHonoring the Memoir ProcessOther People, Other RoomsClaiming Responsibility for Your StoryThe Ethics of GuiltWhat's Next?Bringing Your Story into Public SpaceYour Story, Your Book Appendix: Spotlight Exercises by ChapterGlossaryBibliographyOther Suggested Memoirs