Sunday, September 17, 2006

What She Said

Many of the comments my Goddard MFA advisor, Aimee Liu, made on my manuscript (working title: Memorial) apply to any piece of writing.

I thought I'd share them with you:

       * What gets our attention is the promise of a struggle among equals - a good fight with an uncertain outcome. If your story can't deliver that, you have no story.

       * We need to know everything that's at stake in your [main character's] death. To know that, we need to know as much about those losing him as we do about him.

       * Where is the conflict?

       * Think of your [characters] as sparring partners. Show us how they spar. What are they sparring about?

       * How is [the setting] a metaphor?

       * Dialogue should read like a game of ping pong.

       * What does each detail mean emotionally?

       * What were you thinking? What was each main character thinking?

       * Where is the conflict?

       * Whether or not you [the author of a memoir] were actually there, we need to feel that we [the readers] are in the room with these people.

       * Search for all the imperfect verbs (would be, etc.) and change them to past tense (was, etc.).

       * Why should we care?

       * Give us the moment.

       * How did what he [the main character] said or did affect you? How did you react? How did the other main characters react?

       * Where is the conflict?

       * Give us the split perspective. (e.g. your viewpoint of an event when it happened contrast with how you see it now)

       * Where is the conflict? Where is the conflict? Where is the [you guessed it] conflict?

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