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text 2017-04-20 07:37
Introduction to Memoir Writing - workshop outline FREE

A dozen people turned up to my free workshop, Introduction to Writing Memoir.

 

I spoke for an hour - flat out. In the end there was applause and a few participants bought my books, nicely displayed on a table near the door (so they couldn't miss them).

 

A lot of participants who attend the Creative Writing Circles I facilitate are writing memoirs. A lot of them don't know where to begin, how to structure or write their stories. I thought a workshop that addressed these issues would at least get them started off right, saving them a lot of time and frustration revising.

 

They might even be grateful enough to buy a book. Some apparently were.

 

Here's the workshop outline I distributed to those who attended. You might find this information helpful if you're considering writing about an event in your life. If you do (and your feeling grateful) sign up for my Advance Reading Team and I'll send you a FREE E-BOOK edition of my latest novel The LOCAL RAG.

 

Here's the link. http://eepurl.com/cj5wjj

 

 

Introduction to Memoir Writing

Facilitator: Rod Raglin

Amazon Author Page - https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

Website: http://www.rodraglin.com

E-mail: rod_raglin@yahoo.com

 

This short program is designed to set you on the right path to writing a memoir.

 

What is a memoir?

A memoir is not the story of your life (autobiography) but rather a story of one of your life experiences. It has a distinct beginning and end.

 

How to plan your memoir

Your memoir should be structured like any good story. Before you begin writing you should decide the story's Goal, Motivation and Conflict.

Goal: What did you want?

Motivation: Why did you want it?

Conflict: What was stopping you from getting it?

 

Be specific about your Goal

It's best to be specific and not generalize - I wanted to be happy is a generalization. I wanted out of the marriage I was in with an alcoholic so I could be happy is specific. Rather than wanting a good job which is a generalization; write I wanted to be a neuro-surgeon.

 

Motivation

Dig deep to discover why you wanted what you wanted. You might think you wanted to start your own business because you hoped to make a lot of money but was there more - the prestige, the power, the independence?

 

Conflict

These are the challenges that are preventing you from attaining your goal. Here again dig deep. What was stopping you from writing that novel - the responsibility of a family, lack of time - or fear of failure?

 

Where to start

Start with the inciting incident. The moment you decided things were going to change, or the moment something happened that changed the status quo.

Don't start with backstory - your personal history - fill that in as the story unfolds and only what is necessary for the reader to understand your motivation. Always make it minimal and relevant to this memoir.

 

Story structure

The story arc - begins with the inciting incident and the tension rises as you are confronted with one obstacle (conflict) after another that you have to overcome to achieve your goal. The highest point of the story arc is the climax - the final battle that will resolve whether or not you achieve your goal.

 

Then denouement - wrap up loose ends and finish.

 

Some tips about writing

Always ask Why and How - and answer these questions honestly

 

Evoke emotion - how did you feel about the person, the event, the award, the death? Reading is an emotional experience and if you don't tell the reader how you felt about the events you're writing about your memoir will be uninspiring and not entertaining. Remember the paradox of writing - the more personal you write, the more universal the appeal.

 

Show don't tell

You want your reader to feel like they're actually experiencing the event not being told what happened. One of the best way to do this is to use lots of dialogue. Dialogue is action and action is showing not telling. It doesn't matter if you don't remember exactly what was said - this is your story.

 

Consider the writing technique Scene/Sequel.

Write an action scene and then a sequel reflecting on the action.

 

Use specifics - don't generalize

 

Revision

Once you've written your memoir you need to put it away until it's out of your system. You need to get perspective on it. That could take anywhere from a minimum of three months to? Then take it out and re-read and revise. You'll likely have lots of revisions.

 

Once you've done the re-write, you need to find as many "objective" people as possible to read, proof and comment on it. Try to find people who can be honest and do not have a conflict of interest.

 

Consider joining a local writing group or register on an online critique site. Then revise taking their comments and corrections into consideration.

 

 

Once you've done all the revising you can decide to self publish on Amazon - free with a 70-30% royalty split or begin the submission process to publishers.

 

Books that are helpful:

The Writer's Process, Getting Your Brain in Gear by Anne Janzer 

Writing MEMOIR, The Practical Guide to Writing and Publishing the Story of Your Life,

by Jerry Payne

 

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review 2017-04-18 21:23
A marmite collection of unique characters and stories.
Homesick for Another World: Stories - Ottessa Moshfegh

Thanks to NetGalley and to Vintage for offering me an ARC copy of this collection that I voluntarily chose to review.

I read Moshfegh’s novel Eileen (nominated for the Booker Prize, read my review here), admired it (perhaps liking it is not the right way to describe it) and I was curious to read more by the same author.  When I saw this book on offer I took the chance.

This collection of short-stories does reinforce some of the thoughts I had about Eileen. Ottessa Moshfegh can write, for sure. If the stories in this collection have anything in common, apart from the quality of the writing, is the type of characters. They all (or most) are lonely, only a few are likeable (they can all be liked, but that’s not what I mean) and easy to relate to, they often have disgusting habits (although I suspect that if our lives were put under a microscope and every last little detail was looked at and written down we might not look very pretty either), and are lost. The characters made me think of Sherwood Anderson and Flannery O’Connor (not the style of writing, though): those people who don’t seem to fit anywhere and are utterly peculiar, although many of the characters in the stories are only peculiar because we get a peep into their brains. One gets the sense that they would appear pretty normal from the outside. A man who lives alone at home, watching telly, and is friendly with the girl living next door. A Maths’ teacher, divorced, who might cheat on the students’ exams. A Yale graduate, who does not know what to do with his life, spends too much money on clothes and gets infatuated with a woman he only met briefly once. A couple of children, twins, telling each other stories. An aspiring actor who can’t get any acting jobs.

Of course, there are other things we discover. The man seems to have a strange interest in the girl next door. The Maths’ teacher drinks so much she keeps a sleeping bag at the school (well, it’s really a room in a church) so she can lie down between classes. The graduate has to sell his clothes in a desperate attempt to get the attention of the woman he is mad about. One of the twins is planning to kill a man. The aspiring actor doesn’t know who Scorsese is (or much about anything) and can’t even kiss a girl on camera. The author digs deep into the characters’ façade and pulls a distorted mirror to them, that like in caricature drawings, emphasises the weirdest characteristics rather than what might make them seem ‘normal’ because normal is a construct after all.

Not many of these stories would fit comfortably into standard definitions of what a short story is supposed to be like. If the author pushes the boundaries with her choice of characters and her descriptions (a lot of them have acne that they squeeze, they are sick or make themselves sick, their bodily functions are described in detail, and some are … well, let’s say ‘alternative’) she does the same with the stories. Quite a few of them seem to be slices of life rather than stories with a beginning, a middle and an end. There are some that have more of a conventional ending (even if it is open ended), but plenty do not and it is up to the reader to decide what, if anything, to make of them. If I had to choose and extract something from the stories (not a lesson as such, but a reflection of sorts) is that perhaps the only characters who end up in a better place or experiencing some sort of happiness (or contentment) are those who don’t try to live up to anybody’s expectations and accept what might appear to be strange alliances and relationships. But perhaps it is just that those are the stories that have stuck more in my head.

Reading the comments, this collection, much like Eileen, is a marmite book. Some people really love it and some hate it with a passion. As I said, the writing is excellent, but you’ll need to have a strong stomach and not mind detailed descriptions of bodily functions and less than flattering individuals (nobody is tall, dark and handsome here, although some characters believe they are). Although many of the stories might feel dispiriting and depressing, this depends on the point of view of the reader and there are very witty lines and funny (but dark) moments.

Here some examples:

‘Oh, okay, there were a few fine times. One day I went to the park and watched a squirrel run up a tree. A cloud flew around the sky.’

‘I had a thing about fat people. It was the same thing I had about skinny people: I hated their guts.’

‘Her face was pinched, as though she’d just smelled someone farting. It was that look of revulsion that awoke something in me. She made me want to be a better man.’

In sum, I wouldn’t dare to recommend this book to everybody, by a long stretch, but if you want to check great writing, have a strong stomach, and don’t mind strange and not always likeable characters and unconventional stories, dare to read on. It will be an utterly unique experience.

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text 2017-04-16 14:17
The Status of Project Frankenstein & Other Updates

 

 

 

 

Reading Goal

 

I have completed half of the goal that I set for myself this year. Really happy that I'm getting some reading done even with life being as crazy as it is.

 

 

 

Project Frankenstein

 

I have finished 8 out of the books that I originally included in the post. Right now, I'm reading My Frankenstein, which is fun. Frankenstein & Philosophy remains abandoned even now. It isn't just dry; it is also repetitive, which makes it even worse!

 

 

  1. Parent Material: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  2. Others’ Take: The Mammoth Book of Frankenstein by Stephen Jones
  3. Historical Retakes: Anno Frankenstein by Jonathan Green
  4. Genre Spins: Steampunk: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by Zdenko Basic
  5. Young Adult Forays: Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters by Suzanne Weyn
  6. Sci-Fi Pastiche: Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz
  7. Philosophical Entree: Frankenstein and Philosophy by Nicholas Michaud
  8. Series Picker-Uppers: The Second Birth of Frankenstein by Will Hill
  9. Prequels: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
  10. Precipitating Conditions: The Lady and Her Monsters by Roseanne Montillo
  11. Character Spotlight: My Frankenstein by Michael J. Lee
  12. Technological Difficulties: Frankenstein’s Cat by Emily Anthes
  13. Changed Perspectives: Frankenstein’s Monster by Susan Heyboer O’Keefe
  14. Graphic Detail: Monster Of Frankenstein by Dick Briefer, David Jacobs, Alicia Jo Rabins Edwards

 

Book Bingo

 

 

Besides this, I am also playing Book Bingo with my workmates. At the moment, I'm reading a book for the Myth-Based shelf

 

 

 

this is the progress that I've made so far:

 

 

 

 

 

Wringo Ink.


 

 

As you guys know, we started a Writing Bingo game at work, as well. So far, I've written a short story in the Romance genre, one with a Philosophical twist, and a play! Now, I'm writing a story that starts with a certain phrase. The phrase was chosen by our long-suffering readers and goes like, "Once upon a time, sharks flew across the sky."

 

 

 

 

Booklikesopoly

 

As if I don't have enough things going, I am so tempted to start this game. If I do, I think I'll let it extend beyond May 2017 because I want to finish as many books off my TBR as I can! I have already rolled the dice for the first time and got 7 viz.

 

 

and I'm thinking of reading this one because I haven't had a chance to read it yet:

 

 

 

Five Exercises for Writing Stronger Narrative Personality

 

I think I'll be starting with this one and take my time to finish writing about each personality:

 

Exercise 1: Free Write

 

"Take three personalities, and spend fifteen minutes free writing in their voice. You can write about absolutely anything – what you ate for breakfast, which elder god will swallow the world, or what the character’s life is like – as long as you do it with their personality".

 

I want to start with, A cultist on the edge of losing their soul to an elder god,
because it sounds very Malazan-esque and really cool!

 

 

The Missing Slate Contest

 

A short story content that I will be participating in. Here are the details:

 

 

 

 

The Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction

 

The daddy of all awards and I want to participate in this one. The deadline is mid of May and I kept thinking I had time but now April's almost gone and I'm panicking. I have the beginnings of an idea but I don't yet know how to pull it off. Moreover, the idea tells me that the story is going to be Military SciFi/Fantasy. I might have read books in this genre but writing a story seems impossible.

 

 

Stick along for the ride & I promise, I'll keep you posted!

 

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text 2017-04-12 11:05
10 Simple Rules for Good Writing

writing

 

Anyone can write, but only a handful of individuals can write well. And the question that we ask ourselves is what does it take to be a good writer? Being a good writer isn’t something that just happens overnight. It takes years to master the art of writing. Don’t be discouraged though, practice coupled with constant extensive learning should make the process faster and easier. I am here to help you with writing by giving you tips that will come in handy. I have identified ten simple rules of writing to guide you in your journey to attaining the status of an excellent writer.
Here are 10 rules to unleashing your writing potential:


1. Be Simple
“Why are you writing?”
It’s important, as a writer, to be familiar with your goal of writing. Understand why and for what purpose you want to communicate with your audience or pass certain information to them. It can be quite frustrating when your audience has difficulties relating to you and the ideas you’re trying to pass across. Therefore, as a writer, it’s a rule to maintain simplicity at all times. Simplicity helps to avoid a scenario where your audience misinterprets your message or fails to understand you.


2. Use Simple Sentences
Simple sentences drive the point home with so much ease and are quickly understood. Having long and overly wordy sentences tends to bore the audience. Therefore, as a writer, make it a rule to keep your sentences short and straight to the point.


3. Who Is Your Audience?
“Do you know who your audience is?”
When you know your audience well, communicating with them will be easy. Your audience determines the kind of material that you write. Therefore, when writing, ensure that you’re familiar with your audience before posting any article.


4. Use Simple Words
Using of complicated words may distort the information you’re trying to pass across to your audience. The worst that can happen is your audience having no clue what you are talking about. It’s wise to use words understood by the laymen. Use of complex words doesn’t appeal to audiences and instead, makes your article a bit boring. What matters is being able to communicate with your audience rather than having a fancy article.


5. Your Topic Is Just as Important
What many writers tend to take for granted is the topic of the article. This is a terrible and costly mistake! Remember that the first impression is what draws the audience. Making your topic catchy is likely to attract more readers as compared to if it is less impressive. Therefore, set some time aside to identify the best and the most appropriate topic.


6. Do Extensive Research before Writing
Before you get down to writing, take some time to do extensive research. The research will make you more confident in your writing and you will articulate your points more clearly and concisely. Ultimately, you will be more informative.


7. Have an Introduction
This is your chance to wow your readers. How you introduce your work to your readers will determine if they proceed to read it or not. Your introduction should make your audience eager to know more.


8. Maintain a Positive Tone
Often, you’ve heard people advising against hanging around negative people. The same applies to writing. A good writer will use a positive rather than negative tone for their articles. An audience prefers an article written in a positive tone.


9. Avoid Getting into Much Detail
Describing places, characters, things, etc. should not take up a big portion of your writing. A good writer will work at keeping descriptions to a minimum.


10. Reread Your Article
Good writers understand the value of checking their articles. We all tend to make grammatical errors that can be corrected in the process. Also, reading your article out loud helps you determine whether your sentences are comprehensible or not.

 

Conclusion
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, good writers are not made overnight. It will take sheer discipline to make you one. As a writer, applying the ten simple rules of writing will be of value to you as you strive to perfect your writing. It doesn’t take much effort but the burning desire and the passion for becoming a good writer.

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review 2017-04-08 02:45
A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink
A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What Is a Noun? - Brian P. Cleary,Jenya Prosmitsky

A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What is a Noun? is another fun story by Brian Cleary. It is to be read with a lot of enthusiasm, because this story gives students an exciting route to learning parts of speech.

 

This book's reading level ranges from K-2; I would read this story aloud in a 1st grade classroom and as I am reading, I would have my students either hold their thumbs up each time they hear a person, place or thing, or write down a few nouns they heard throughout the story and repeat them after reading. Then I would give them a list of nouns and have them decide if each is a person, place or thing. An extension would be to have them to a creative writing activity, giving them a number of nouns to have in a story they create.

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