This is Big Book

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Years ago, maybe fifteen, or more, at a writing workshop in NYC, a guest editor from The New Yorker made the following statement. She said: I read the first line. If I like it, I read the second line. And, so on.

Now this doesn’t mean that the story can’t have the most gentle, bucolic, softly sensual opening that’s ever been written. Of course it can. But it must also grab hard and fast. So fast the reader gets knocked senseless. I am talking Risk here.

That love affair on the page that opens the story— needs to startle, entice, engage, titillate or tell us something we don’t know. Or don’t want to know. But risk is key. As a writer, editor, and writing teacher I have succeeded at some stories and failed at others. The ones that succeed are ones where I have taken a risk, whereas the others are just ordinary.

Years ago, maybe fifteen, or more, at a writing workshop in NYC, a guest editor from The New Yorker made the following statement. She said: I read the first line. If I like it, I read the second line. And, so on.

Now this doesn’t mean that the story can’t have the most gentle, bucolic, softly sensual opening that’s ever been written. Of course it can. But it must also grab hard and fast. So fast the reader gets knocked senseless. I am talking Risk here.

That love affair on the page that opens the story— needs to startle, entice, engage, titillate or tell us something we don’t know. Or don’t want to know. But risk is key. As a writer, editor, and writing teacher I have succeeded at some stories and failed at others. The ones that succeed are ones where I have taken a risk, whereas the others are just ordinary.

For some time now, I’ve been feeling that I’d love to give more in-depth writing workshops. I have given such writing workshops in the past, but I want to make it more of a feature of my work. I want to take a group of enthusiastic writers to the next level. Just over two weeks ago, with the help of just such a group of enthusiastic writers, I achieved that ambition. I gave a memoir-writing workshop which gave the writers the space to create a full-length story and get feedback on it within a few hours. The writers created their magic in this building.

This story would explore the role of point of view in shaping stories. In other words, the point of view you choose to tell the story from shapes the atmosphere of the story, and changes your view of the characters in it. The writers would tell the story of a small but significant injustice that they experienced when they were young.

We all have them. The time we were promised sweets but never got them. Or we saved up to buy something, only to find that the shopkeeper had sold it on. As a twist, the writers would tell the story from the viewpoint of the character who committed this injustice.



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