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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Writing Wednesday

Welcome to Writing Wednesday.

I know a few of you that follow my blog are writing memoirs. So I thought I would talk to you about the workshop I attended at the WVWriter's Convention called How Creative is Creative Non Fiction by Jim Minick. I thoroughly enjoyed his workshop. The room was full and they kept coming. He laughed each time the door opened and more people walked in. Someone finally left the room in search for more chairs. He said, "I didn't think this workshop would be so popular."

He is the author of The Blueberry Years. You can visit his website here.

You can go here for an excerpt from The Blueberry Years.

His workshop was very informative.

Some of the things I learned from the hand outs and from the conversation was that:

Memory, one of our key tools, in unreliable, so how much leeway do we have to use our imagination to fill in what is half-remembered - and still call our work nonfiction?

You select and dramatize for clarity and suspense. You don't change the basic plot or invent characters, but you might -
Condense Time - Let your readers know what you are doing - and why.
Make Omissions
Recreate Once-Heard Dialogue
Make Composite Characters
Stretch Out Key Scenes

You have to think about: Ethics, Intent - it helps us resist the urge to change facts, just to make a better story, Elaboration, Honesty, Authenticity - justifying adding the details, Emotional Truth vs. Factual Truth.

You have an obligation to the people you are writing about and to your readers.

I leave you with a few quotes:
"Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth." Picasso
"I am an artist...therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth." Ursula LeGuin.
"Memory has its own story to tell." Tobias Wolff

Happy Writing!


  1. I would have loved to have attended this workshop. I have a memoir manuscript, along with my fiction, and see lots of what Jim said in my work. I especially like the idea that we have an obligation to the people we write about. It can be a fine line we walk when writing a story that might have more than one personal viewpoint.

  2. I don't write memoir, but I'm glad you had a good time at the workshop. I love the quotes you included.

  3. My memoir is already written and self-published, for the grandchildren; however, more older people have enjoyed it than the kids. Older people have read about things they remember or people they knew. I do appreciate you writing about this subject.

  4. Sounds like a very interesting workshop. My mom writes a lot of genealogy papers and put together a book on the area of the county where we live. She would have loved to attend a workshop like this!

  5. Some very good information. I plan on keeping it in mind. Thanks for the post..Susie

  6. So excited to have found your blog! I am from next door in Roane County... I love to write -- am a writing and reading teacher in Calhoun County, WV! Cheryl Ware has visited our school -- she's awesome! There is a Women Writer's Retreat in Spencer in August ... lmk if you are interested and I'll forward you the info. Glad I found you!

  7. This sounds like a fantastic workshop. Wish I could have attended it. Thanks for sharing this information with us. You always give excellent writing tips.


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