A Series of Memoir Insights – What’s Your Voice?
Four lectures/seminars/conversations with David Rutter that explore the whole range of fun challenges for those interested or curious about writing Memoir. They are related ideas subdivided into two one-hour topics per session, broken up by the stretch-your-legs mid-break.
*The seminars: July 6, 13, 20 & 27
What’s your voice?: What is your natural memoir writing “voice” and how do you find it? “Voice” is your natural story-telling language. How to learn how to write like you think, so the words form a more natural, real-life flow from your storytelling voice.
Part 2: Making it real: Techniques to find comfort in your story-telling. How telling the story to yourself first before you write it can sharpen the choices. Tell me your story; I can help you work in story-telling, which is the essential nature of Memoir.
How to be vivid? How to make your memoir memorable and elegant with more vivid word choices. You might have a great story but use flat, uninspiring words that don’t match with the drama, zest or even the gentleness of the story. Writing is observation; learn how to observe your universe, and your role in it. Finding the right words does not mean finding the biggest or obtuse word possible. How to be write simply, but elegantly.
Part 2: Honesty: How to use honest self-reflection and doubt as writing tools so you can avoid puffery. “None of us is as good at this as we think we are.”
The beginning, middle and end. The first sentence of every memoir is often most important because it helps readers decide immediately if they want to spend more time with you. So learning how to construct the most tantalizing, inviting, compelling first paragraph is central. But there are two other important moments in the memoir: One is the “cosmic” paragraph that sums up what the theme of the story is, and why people should pay heed. The third leg of the table is the closing: How to end with words that capture the memoir spirit, and let readers be satisfied they were fulfilled by investing time in reading. How not to be trite, cute or dull. How to say “the end” with elegance.
PART 2: Don’t Be The star: The hardest temptation to avoid in Memoir is making yourself the epic hero of your epic life. That puts people to sleep. But they will love how you observe life and are often the inadvertent victim of fate, rather than the Emperor of All Creation. But how do you tell that full story of your life — both up and down— if your are not the Super Star? How to analyze yourself as a topic.
Are you funny? Your life is funny; your sense of humor is riotously funny; the people in your life are funny. But can you write a Memoir that makes people laugh because the writing is funny? We’ll test that out. How to know if your “funny” life can be a ”funny” memoir? (I can ask 3 jokes, and based on your laugh response, reliably predict if you can write funny … It’s a Bill Bryson/Calvin Trillin exercise. Can you write this Bryson sentence ,or at least wish you had written it: “Hunters will tell you that a moose is a wily and ferocious forest creature. Nonsense. A moose is a cow drawn by a three-year-old.”
We can use Bryson’s style as the classic example of how to construct funny writing
Part 2: Getting published: So you have written a brilliant Memoir. But how do you get it published? What should you know about picking a self-publisher (potholes and worse); How not to pay too much for your book to be published, how much should you expect to get from it financially and emotionally; how to seek the right service package from a self-publisher;
How to find a traditional publisher because this book will make a billion dollars (which actually means how to find an agent).
For nearly 45 years, David Rutter was a writer, editor and publisher at six daily newspapers in five states, and then a featured suburban columnist for the Tribune and Sun-Times, plus a half-dozen North Shore magazines. At his core, Rutter Is a writer who’s reported from urban jungles, suburban swamps and rural quagmires. He wrote a successful World War II memoir— ”Olga’s War” — for a family friend. That work grew into a full book, a chapter of which was turned into a documentary by PBS.
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