Today at the National Association of Memoir Writers we hosted Jordan Rosenfeld, Author of Make a Scene, and an editor at Writers Digest. She enthralled a large audience of memoir writers as she stressed the importance of using scenes–going beyond simply narrating a story to bringing the reader into your memory piece through scenes.
“Try to see what you want to write about as a movie. Bring the reader into the movie of your life, and let them feel, see, and know what it was like for you in that moment.”
Jordan talked about what is in a scene: the visual element of description, sensual details, characters, and action.
“Memoir writers tend to think a lot and be in their heads. You need to show action, even a small gesture, and include conflict as well.”
She assured us that conflict did not need to be car chases! She meant that the different characters in the piece have opposing desires. Most memoirs are about people who don’t necessarily see eye to eye, so we should be able to find moments of conflict that will give our scenes the ring of truth and make them more interesting to read. It’s important to have a scene focus on something significant that happens.
Jordan spoke to our group as part of the ongoing free teleseminars that come with an NAMW membership.
I loved her presentation. I read so many memoirs that don’t use scenes often enough, so the writing tends to be flat and beige in color. In my work using writing as a healing tool, it is really important to write in scenes. It allows you to re-experience what happened through a new perspective–now—and helps to put the issue to rest through re-experiencing it in current time, as an adult.
Keep writing, and write those scenes! One by one, you create the moments of your memoir.