Lisa Dale Norton
Your Life As Story: Writing Narrative Nonfiction
The Art and Craft of Characterization in Memoir:
by Lisa Dale Norton
Lisa Dale Norton will be providing a one-hour interactive teleconference in the Authorlink Virtual Classroom January 23, 2008. Find details here.
"That first voice we hear when we|
read memoir is the voice
of the narrator ,
you, the writer. . ."
Last month I introduced the topic of the Art and Craft of Characterization in Memoir and discussed differences between the terms Art and Craft. I want to stick with the idea of developing characters in memoir for a few months beginning with some bedrock thinking about who our characters are and what our responsibilities are, as writers of memoir, in creating those characters.
When I talk about characters in a work of memoir I am not only referring to the people who the narrator includes in the story (‹parents, children, relatives, mentors, friends, and enemies ) but also the narrator himself. That first voice we hear when we read memoir is the voice of the narrator , you, the writer, the hero of your story, and your first job when creating that character is to make the voice so rich, real, vivid, and authentic that the reader is drawn in eager to hear more, more, more, of what you have to say.
". . . you also need to commit to looking deeply inside yourself so that you can come to the page with wise insight . . . "|
". . . you build, inside the mind ' s eye of the reader, a vivid narrator, a person readers want to listen to. . ."
"Crafting our loved ones and people
When we can do this with ourselves, we will be able to bring those same qualities to our portrayals of other characters in our stories. Crafting our loved ones and people we are angry with into believable characters on the page is one of the hardest things to do in memoir and one of the things that most stymies writers. They balk at the thought of expressing true emotions about people and representing them inappropriately. Yet, if we can bring compassion to our characterizations, this problem dissolves.
". . . when we can thoughtfully consider the human condition in our writing,
And when we can do that, when we can thoughtfully consider the human condition in our writing, our memoir rises above the pettiness of everyday life. It utilizes Craft and makes Art.
Lisa Dale Norton
Lisa Dale Norton's new book about memoir, SHIMMERING IMAGES: A HANDY LITTLE GUIDE TO WRITING MEMOIR, will be released by St. Martin 's Press in Spring '08. She is the author of Hawk Flies Above: Journey to the Heart of the Sandhills (Picador USA/St. Martin 's Press), a work combining memoir and nature writing. Lisa teaches for the UCLA Writers' Extension Program and speaks nationally on the power of story and the process of writing your own. She lives in Santa Fe. www.lisadalenorton.com|