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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Strategy # 8 Hidden Secrets: Family History

Build Your Story: 8 Strategies for Writing Innovative Setting with Impact

Exercise: 1) Write a letter to a relative in your past. What do you wish you knew about their circumstances or their feelings?

For example: I knew at some point in my life that my paternal grandmother had crossed the Atlantic in 1911 to join her husband. She had three young children under the age of ten. The full concept didn’t connect with me until I saw a ship from that era and the unit she and the children would have occupied. I was stunned at the deprivation, barely more than a narrow bunk, and wished I could know more about her courage to immigrate. All I had of her were a few pictures. (This picture is not of them)

2) Write a letter to a grandchild or great grandchild, niece, nephew in the future. What do you want them to know about their family—what do you feel is so important that it must be remembered?

Learning To Remember

Choose one of the journal suggestions from last week that involved a family event.

A 1. Make a list of what you do remember.
    2. Make a list of what you don’t remember.

B. What is a memory in your life that you keep going back to? Look for one or two sharp details.

Places to look or prepare for your character

photo albums with vignettes/anecdotes
photo album with or without stories, autobiography, biographical sketches.
a memory book either for individuals or whole family
family tree
a record of archives

All of these family memories have the potential to be turned into fictional episodes with secrets.

Exercise: Take a real incident in your own life and adapt the emotional and sensory reactions from the main character’s personality. Try reversing your own reactions. For example if you felt embarrassed at a remark that was made, but laughed at a joke have your character do the opposite.

Share:  What is the key sensory detail to that memory for either you or your character?

Read deep, marcy

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