Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Less Me, More We: How Memoir Is Written


Using fantasy to help release the truth—today’s re-blog is magical :-)

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Julie Riddle

Brevity craft editor Julie Riddle’s newly-released memoir The Solace of Stones: Finding a Way through Wilderness, has been praised by Mary Clearman Blew as “heartbreaking, courageous, and written with rare beauty.”

Here is an excerpt of Julie’s post on the University of Nebraska Press blog discussing how she went from writing “anguished entries in a private journal” to finally writing her powerful book:

The first time I wrote about being sexually abused as a child, I was in my mid-thirties and had enrolled in an undergraduate creative-writing class. Until then I had written professionally—articles for newspapers, and press releases and feature stories for a communications office. But the only writing I had done about the abuse was fragmented and often anguished entries in a private journal I kept in my twenties, as I coped with the fallout from the childhood trauma.

By my mid-thirties I had emerged from…

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Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Twenty-One


Trial by Water

by
Alexander M Zoltai

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I woke up to a loud crack.

There was ceiling paint and plaster fracturing—then the multiple thuds.

I couldn’t believe my eyes—paint and plaster on the carpet with gallons of water!

It was one room away from where I’d been sleeping and I knew exactly what happened—the washing machine of the tenants above me had sprung a major leak in exactly the wrong place…

I called upstairs and the man said, “I’ll be down in awhile.”

I was still being stunned that such damage had happened when I heard the machine upstairs start up again.

I called up to ask if that was wise and got a stream of invectives and harsh roaring!

Incredible!

His washing machine caused it and he’s mad at me…?

I called the landlord.

He was calm and said he’d stop by later.

He never showed up.

He didn’t show up the next day either.

Two days after and, still, no one had come to check out the damage.

I’ve done research—this is a very serious thing—damage to the electrical equipment (which has been off for two days) because of water in the walls—mold beginning to grow…

I’ve not been in good health—I don’t need to be breathing mold—I don’t need to hear their washing machine starting up again and again, mocking my imagination that the ceiling’s collapsing with the machine smashing into my living room…

I’ve marshaled my persistence, called my sister (who’s wanted me to live closer for years)—was embraced by her voice and welcomed to come heal…

I’ve also studied the legal code, drawn up a document telling the landlord that he’s “constructively evicted” me by ignoring a dangerous and toxic situation.

It’s now four days since it happened and, still, no one dealing with it—I call the Housing Inspectors, deliver the lease-severing document, load up my brother-in-law’s car, and move—exhausted—still not believing people could care so little for others—especially others who pay them money…

Well… used to pay them money………

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Read More Story Bazaar Tales

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Masterclass snapshots: why it helps to construct your novel in scenes


Today’s Re-blog is good — naturally… it’s from Roz Morris :-)

Nail Your Novel

guardian classWriting in scenes - Nail Your NovelHere’s another great discussion from my recent Guardian self-editing masterclass.

What is a scene? And why does it matter to know that?

Those in the know will probably all have their own slightly different way to define a scene, but this is mine. I think of a scene as the smallest unit of a story’s events.

Like a scene in a movie, a scene in a novel will be confined within a location, or a set of characters. But not necessarily. A scene might cover a number of locations, characters and times if it’s a linking sequence, such as a journey or a flashback or a chunk of back story. So I find the most helpful, graspable definition is to think of it as a step in the storyline, or the reader’s understanding.

Why does it help to think about this?

It helps the writer break the book…

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Life is Still Trumping Fiction


I’m mostly non-“political”, in the sense of highly divisive attempts to organize and control civic life—yet today’s and Monday’s post titles may seem to relate to the American Presidential fiasco…

I’m also mostly (most recently) in a long-term state of “shock”—7 “small” strokes in October and the intensive actions of the last 3 days to prepare for an emergency change of residence (220 mi — 354 km) brought on by a huge water leak from the upstairs apartment that has caused dangerous and harrowing conditions in the small apartment I’m leaving…

So…

The “shock” had me completely unaware I was using a play on words in my Monday blog post title; and, today’s title is merely following suit…

Am I making sense?

Haven’t had sufficient sleep (what some folks would call barely sufficient) and looking forward to the 4 hour drive with my brother-in-law—the guy in that movie who helps the oppressed hero escape from the prison of circumstances—to relax from the massive tension and arrive at my loving sister’s home to “debrief” myself…

Like I said Monday, if I wrote up what’s been happening as fiction, folks would have a bit of trouble believing it; though, the living-through of it feels just like fiction…

And, my Friday Tale this week for the Story Bazaar will be a short rendering as “fiction” of the fiction-like events of the last 3 days…
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Short and Sweet Advice for Writers: Understand the Role of Your Characters


Since one of the characters in my novel was also a “co-author” of that novel, I totally appreciated today’s re-blog :-)

Live to Write - Write to Live

Share only enough character detail to enable your character to play his or her role well. The rest is irrelevant. Share only enough character detail to enable your character to play his or her role well. The rest is irrelevant.

Characters are not real people. Even characters who are based on real people are not, actually, real people. Characters are carefully crafted facsimiles of real or imagined people, designed to play a particular role in your story. 

I have heard this truth many times before, but episode three of Jessica Abel’s podcast, Out on the Wire, really drove the fact home. (FYI – I gushed about Abel’s podcast in the Mar 20 Shareworthy Reading and Writing Links post.) In Walk In My Shoes, Abel explains how characters are puzzle pieces in a story, and just like any other story element, characters have a functional role to play. For this reason, it’s important not to get lost in all the available details of a character’s life and personality.

As the…

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