By the Wind Grieved

By the Wind Grieved
“O lost, And by the wind grieved, Ghost, Come back again.” Thomas Wolfe

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Killing My Darlings

By now, with the release of the new movie starring Daniel Radcliffe as the pre-Howl Allen Ginsberg, many of you will be familiar with the advice given to writers to "kill your darlings." You may even desire to know who really coined that phrase, meaning to cut all self-indulgent, superfluous, if masterful passages of your magnus opus during the revision stage. If so, read the article by Forrest Wickman in the online blog of the culture and current affairs magazine Slate for the short list of suspects. As for me, it is time to take that advice to heart.

It is round two of revisions on the memoir I am ghostwriting (though perhaps that phrase is not entirely accurate as my client has told me he intends to credit my labors in the "as told to" category). If anything, getting my name on the tome only heightens my anxiety at this stage to make a decent showing.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Creating Authentic Dialogue

I have just started revisions on my completed first draft, and one of the areas I will be focusing on is a review of sections containing dialogue. Dialogue is crucial for the way it can add dynamism and description to the narrative, move the plot along, and serve as a vehicle for showing the motives or underlying feelings of the characters.

When it comes to dialogue, the problem I have encountered in writing a memoir for my client is that he has a difficult time remembering conversations; at most I might get a line of two of a conversation between two people, and even then, it is the content of the exchange and not idiosyncrasies of speech that he provides. Entirely absent are characteristic expressions that would help to flesh out important characters in the narrative. In most cases, all I have captured are the bare bones of the exchange.

Just as I was grappling with this problem, I read author and writing teacher Mary Carroll Moore's recent post "Dialogue Do's and Don'ts" on her blog How to Plan, Write and Develop a Book. (I highly recommend signing up for this weekly gem.)  Ms. Moore briefly touches on when and when not to use dialogue (something dealt with at length in her popular workshops) and provides excellent insights into what makes for effective dialogue.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Apps for the Memoir Writer: Scrivener

A couple of posts back I wrote about a recording and note-taking app called AudioNote. Now I will share my experience with a word-processing app called Scrivener that provides a format and tools beyond what MS Word and Apple Pages can do. It is compatible with both of these operating systems as well as with more industry-specific formats in publishing.

Even though I am proficient in probably forty percent of the tools this app offers, I love Scrivener. Beginning with the assumption that any long text is comprised of a collection of much shorter texts that need to be arranged in a cohesive manner, Scrivener allows you to create, organize, manipulate and revise these short sections and then compile them into longer texts.