|On the left are the two original stories|
that I should be giving more attention to,
while on the right are two fanfiction I wasted
precious time on this week.
I'm just about up-to-date as far as sharing my lecture-notes with you all goes. This is what we covered in Writing Craft, week 3:
Memory and Incident
Readings for this week were The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (pages 288-314), The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (pages 13-26) and The Sea by John Banville (pages 3-17).
How do we incorporate isolated examples of observation into what we write? This leads on from the previous lesson about observation and accuracy. The thing is, once something is no longer before us, it is a memory. A common problem with writing about something after-the-fact is that we might write about it too generally.
But imagination is possible because we have a wealth of memories to draw upon and to transform. Just because we are writing from a memory, does not mean we have to be 100% true to that memory. Unless we are being asked to write an autobiography, a memory can be nothing more than the seed of something much, much bigger. Telling a story is a creative process and this is also true when the story we are telling is a memory. Like a game of Chinese whispers: you see something happen and you tell somebody about it later. To make the story seem worth telling, you might unintentionally talk it up or exaggerate, or maybe you really do think it was more story-worthy than what it really was. Either way, say your audience decides to tell somebody else; they're going to tell it differently, using their own interpretation of the event, which might not be 100% accurate to the story you told them, but it is what they remember and it is what comes out through the creative process of retelling a story.
So how do we use memories when we write? We discussed three different ways in our lecture:
1. Using our memories as part of the writer's craft, to add a certain detail to our story: our protagonist is wearing the same sweater as the girl we saw getting off the tram earlier the same day, because that sweater really caught your eye and you remember it and you want your character to have it too.
2. Writers can draw on memory in a broader way, using episodes, settings, atmospheres and situations that can be reworked into our writing. You saw the girl with the sweater trying not to drop her bags while she extracted her mobile phone from her pocket and you decided to get your protagonist to have a similar moment walking home with the groceries.
3. The most direct way of using memory in our writing is to use a memory as a 'performance' in the text, as in when the protagonist retells an event that happened in their childhood.
My second assignment for Writing Craft is using memory as the seed for a fictional story. I've already written a first-draft of this and my tutorial group workshopped it (everyone has to workshop one of their assignments in a tutorial). I'm glad to say I received a lot of positive feedback and my tutor was happy with the way the group as a whole handled the workshop setting.
Have you used memory in one of these ways when writing a story?