On Saturday November 7 I will be giving a presentation on writing scenes at a virtual Rappahannock Writers Conference. Registration is open to anyone, anywhere at LibraryPoint.org. There’s a great line-up of speakers and a panel on publishing. The sessions will remain available on the library’s website through Nov. 14 for those who cannot make it on Saturday.
My presentation, Scenes: The Essential Ingredient, is about understanding that scene writing is critical for any type/genre of prose you are writing, including memoirs.
I describe scenes as: A sequence where a character or characters engage in some sort of action and/or dialogue. Scenes should have a beginning, middle and end (a mini-story arc), and should focus around a definite point of tension that moves the story forward.
Or: individual story units smaller than chapters (but somewhat self-contained), show us sequences of actions and incidents that reveal place and time, characters’ actions, reactions or dilemmas. Basically, scenes are the building blocks of your story.
Like any book the first or launch scene is the most important and will also be the most difficult to craft. It needs to capture the interest of the reader and give the reader a reason to continue.
It helps to think of your memoir as a movie. The summary is the wider camera view. A scene is more of a close-up when you slow down the pace, express emotions, sights, sounds, smells – the five senses. Each scene is like a mini-story and when added together make up the whole.
Before you jump into writing, take some time to plan. What do you want to accomplish? Who will be your audience – and that can be just you. Will your memoir have a theme or will it be a collection of life stories? Who will be the narrator – this is called Point of View.