Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Handling The Truth - A Book On Writing Memoir

National Book Award Finalist Beth Kephart is the author of five memoirs (in addition to writing poetry and short stories.) She teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, and wrote this book on the craft of writing memoir, "Handling The Truth."

In an interview with Barbra DeMarco-Barrett on the Writers and Writing podcast (around 19 minutes in) Beth says,
"I am not a fan...of the purely chronological retelling of a story. Of a life story. I think that you have the responsibility, as a memoirist, to carefully structure your story, your memoir, around the themes that you are working toward.  What are the questions you are trying to answer in your book? And that's going to dictate themes. And that's going to dictate tone and mood and voice, and it's going to break things open for you."

"The real suspense in reading memoir, I believe, should be not what happened, because often in a prologue or preface or because we've read the press we already know that somebody got down the mountain or whatever else happened, but how are the over-riding questions of this memoir going to be answered? How is this writer going to come to terms with the big themes? And that's the lovely suspense that we find in memoir."

Fascinating - and great advice.

Illustrate and Write On,

No comments: