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  1. David Richards

    David Richards New Member

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    Needing some guidance

    Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by David Richards, Jun 7, 2020.

    Hi everyone!

    Please forgive me if this is in the wrong place, I have only just joined this evening.

    Firstly, I hope that everyone is keeping safe and well in these difficult times?

    Secondly, and the reason I am here....

    During this period of lockdown, I have decided to put down on paper some of my childhood and family memories.

    After 50 years, there is a lot of 'stuff' in my head trying to get out!

    My question is how is the best way to approach starting such a project?
    Currently, I am researching all my family background and gathering some information and photos.
    In addition, I have started writing g down bullet points from various times in my life, broken down into sections such as first school, teenage years etc.

    What I am not sure is how to structure the work.
    Should I have chapters such as
    1. Family background
    2. Early years
    3. Celebrations (birthdays)
    Etc and fill these will anecdotes in z chronological order...

    Or should I just write completely chronologically from the beginning?

    I hope this makes some sense and I will really appreciate any advice and guidance you guys can offer.

    Many thanks
    David
     
  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I think that depends largely on what the project is really about. I'm not sure what it is you're writing—is it an autobiography, a family history, maybe both mixed together?

    Either way (or if it's something else) if I were you I would not worry too much in the beginning about how to structure it. Just write, let it come out naturally. It will begin to suggest its own form as you go. Then you'll know how to structure it. A first draft is for getting everything down that you think you might need, usually in very rough form. Then revisions are for organizing it better and polishing it.

    As far as I'm concerned, even if it's a family history or autobiography, there are usually much better ways to organize the telling than strict chronological order. It would be far better to tell it through a very human lens, which often means meandering thoughts that move through events and ideas grouped around theme rather than chronology. As a quick example, you might have some story to tell that concerns your mother, as an important part of the larger overall narrative. It might work best in such a case to start by relating some experience you had with her that you didn't understand, until you learned something about her childhood which explained the behavior and her reasons for it. So in that case you would start when she was middle aged and you were a child, move forward to a point where you're older and learn some important facts about her life, then zoom back into her past, before you were born. And from there you might find you need to even zoom farther back to explain why things were the way they were when she was growing up, and possibly forward again to an incident when she was elderly and you were an adult, taking care of her like she used to do for you. What links them all together is a thread of causation and also ideas, which can be woven in different ways. Find a way that feels natural, like you might explain it to a friend if you had the time to really think it through (which you generally don't in conversations).
     
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  3. David Richards

    David Richards New Member

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    Hi Xoic

    Thank you for your quick reply.

    I will have a good read through it and then give some thought to how best to apply it to my work.

    It does seem daunting to me, and I am struggling as to exactly how best to get started.

    David
     
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  4. SethLoki

    SethLoki Retired Autodidact Contributor

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    A step backward is what I'd offer/advise before you dive, head first, in—keep your notes to one side. If you're serious and want to get it right, I'd say you'd be most comfortable penning from a position where you've digested a good few memoirs yourself, see what's worked for you in terms of staying invested, what books are out there that carry the kind of template that'll easy-click things together for you as a writer (and your prospective readers). I figure once you've found something, and close read it a second time, you could apply your memories and new inspirations to its format. It sounds like your wanting to get your story out, not so much push creative boundaries (apologies if I'm wrong). So no need to sweat over reinventing, just writing freely the scenes into a structure you've chosen and committed to.
     
  5. David Richards

    David Richards New Member

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    Thanks for your advice.
    So would I be better just letting things flow out and then work on 'bolting them together ' afterwards?
     
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  6. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I think that depends on what you're writing. Is it mostly your own life's story, with a smattering of family history? Or are you really delving deep into the archives about things that happened long before you were born?

    I think in either event I would start by compiling the events probably in chronological order in bullet-point form as you seem to be already doing. Your research and notes, from which the work will grow. There will probably be a lot of this before it comes time to decide how to order it into story form.

    I don't even know if you're really writing a story, come to think of it. If it's mainly a family history maybe chronological would be best. And might also be best for your own story, depending on how the material naturally presents itself to you. Do you tend to think about it as a chronological progression?
     
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  7. David Richards

    David Richards New Member

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    It will be my own memories with links to some of my family history to put things in context.

    Therefore, I am just wondering if the strict chronological order would be better.
    I have tried to start some 'chapters' such as family background, and then I find myself going off on a tangent to highlight events or telling the reader these will be covered later on.

    All my bullet point notes and key things I can remember are in a date order.

    I winder if it is worth fleshing out all my notes into individual 'small stories' and then look to link them all together with a narrative running through them in a second or subsequent draft?
     
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  8. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    Nuts, I tried to quote one part of your post and made a hash of it.

    There is nothing wrong with having a bunch of small stories linked together by a larger narrative. It depends on what YOU feel comfortable with and what you want the story to do.

    Just write. As you go along, things will start to click and fit together naturally. ENJOY this part - it's the best part of writing, in my opinion.

    Scott
     
  9. David Richards

    David Richards New Member

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    I think I have the idea now, I am going to just write as it comes to me making sure I include all the bullet points I have and once I have this all down on paper, then I will try to see about the narrative.

    I guess that it is important not to 'sweat the small stuff' too much and just let the writing flow out.
    Once it is out, then look at the best ways to link it together?
     
  10. Scarlett_Rav

    Scarlett_Rav Member

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    I think it depends somewhat on your purpose for writing and your intended audience.

    If I was taking on this project, I might would down on index cards all of the important events and see what other themes come up besides chronological order - you might discover that there are particular threads that stand out.
     
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  11. David Richards

    David Richards New Member

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    Thanks for all the advice.
    Yesterday, I decided to just break down my project into 4 or 5 significant time bands and I just started writing.
    I have my bullet points from each band and it seems that I am able to write linked themes in these bands with some narrative which will also be carried through the 5 bands.

    It has amazed me that when I started putting pen to paper, the writing just has seemed to flow.

    Let's see where it takes me!
     
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  12. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Hi David

    I’m one of the forum moderators, and I want to welcome you to the forum. I see you've already had a great deal of help from our members getting you started on what you want to write, so I'll just quickly get into my Moderator mode, and fill you in on how the forum works. Please note my PS at the end, though. I'll lay out how to frame questions so you get 'seen' by other members who are interested in autobiography/memoirs.

    In order to help you get oriented in general, and get settled in, here are a couple of links I strongly recommend that you read at the start, if you haven’t already. They will give you a good idea of how we operate here on the forum:

    New Member Quick Start

    Forum Rules

    You will notice in the New Member Quick Start that in order to post your work in the Workshop area—the only area of the forum where you are allowed to post your work and ask for feedback—you will need to do at least two critiques for other people, in exchange for receiving feedback on one of your own pieces of work.

    This site is designed around the concept of members helping each other out by ‘paying it forward’—through our two-for-one critique system. So do two critiques, THEN you can post something of your own. This advance 2:1 ratio lasts as long as your membership here—although it is your own responsibility to keep track of your own ratio. The software doesn't keep track of it for you, beyond your first two critiques.

    In order to help you get started doing critiques, here is a link to a good article written by one of our former moderators: https://www.writingforums.org/threads/constructive-critiques.20627/

    One of the popular areas of our forum is our contest section. There is a monthly contest running for Short Stories, Flash Fiction and Poetry. You can enter these ongoing contests, even as a new member. And we really encourage you to visit the site, read the current entries, and vote for your favourite when the voting period starts. This means a lot to the people who have written these entries. And it will also give you a good idea of what our members are capable of writing.
    https://www.writingforums.org/writing-contests/

    While the Role Playing Game section is not new, it’s being given a revamp. So if you are interested in playing and writing Role Playing Games, you might want to visit this section and get in on the fun. https://www.writingforums.org/threads/resurrecting-the-dead-rpg-section-rebuild.165055/

    I hope you have fun getting to know us and let us get to know you, via the posts you make. Please feel free to explore the forum. There is a lot under the hood. This site map might help you find your way around more quickly than the menu bars do, so feel free to use it. https://www.writingforums.org/faq/

    If you encounter any difficulties, don’t hesitate to contact me or one of the other moderators, whose names appear in yellow at the bottom of the Community page. We will be glad to help.

    Again, welcome!

    Cheers for now,
    Jan

    PS - We have limited ability here to change our formatting. It would be ideal to have separate sections in both our By The Genre category and By Writing Form specifically for memoirs/autobiographies and the like. Some day we might. But in the meantime, our Technical Administrator has set up a workaround so you can label (and read) other offerings from other writers in this genre. The workaround is called "Prefix."

    NOTE: This is NOT for posting your work for review. That can only be done in the Workshop, after you've fulfilled Workshop requirements. The two categories here are for asking general questions related to writing autobiographies and memoirs, and getting them tagged so other people are alerted to the subject matter.

    This is what our Prefix looks like on the thread lists. It's the blue box next to the writer's avatar photo :
    Screenshot 2020-06-11 at 05.53.59.png
    Here is how to tag your questions with that Prefix.

    Go to the Community page, browse the list in the top section (Creative Writing.) Near the bottom of the list you will find two categories:

    By The Genre

    and
    By Writing Form

    Here is how to start a thread question and get it tagged with your Prefix.

    Go to By the Genre and click on it
    Click on Post New Thread
    Choose the little arrow next to No Prefix
    Choose Autobiography
    Write your title and proceed

    or

    Go to By Writing Form
    Click on Post New Thread
    Choose the little arrow next to No Prefix
    Choose Autobiographical/Memoir
    Write your title and proceed
     

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