Author Topic: Memoir-You Don't Know Me-1st paragraph  (Read 44 times)

Offline MelanieLang

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Memoir-You Don't Know Me-1st paragraph
« on: January 09, 2022, 10:04:36 AM »
Greetings fellow writers and authors! This is my first book, a memoir. The theme is parentage. I also have a post about query letters that provides a blurb within for those curious and one other post under titles. Your thoughts and opinions are greatly appreciated. I have read this a thousand times and can no longer see straight. Any honest feedback is welcome. Thank you!

He didn't want to be a father. My brother and I were a package deal that came with my mother. You see, he wanted her. At first, he created the facade of being a father by being a husband. The fondest memory I have as a child is a family moment where my older brother Luke and I sat in the large hallway and threshold of our third rental in Irving, listening to 70s records with my momma and David. Momma sat cross-legged swaying her shoulders to the beat while snapping her fingers. As she put it, the music was groovy. David playfully pulled Momma from the plush dark brown carpet where we sat with her, enjoying the upbeat music from the previous generation, and they began dancing in a picture-perfect moment. Her long dark hair flowed down just past her shoulders. She barely came to David’s shoulders as she reached up to rest her hands on them as they danced in rhythm to the music.

Offline Tallis

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Re: Memoir-You Don't Know Me-1st paragraph
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2022, 03:44:20 PM »
Hi Melanie,

Thanks for sharing this.  The first couple of lines are great and pull me in.  After that, I thought it could be tightened.  It may be a memoir but you needn't frame it that way with every sentence (ie, commenting on the significance of each detail).  Whether true or fictional, stories are more compelling for the reader if they're narrated straightforwardly.

With that in mind, some tightening possibilities -- take or leave as they are helpful!  (I guessed at one added detail for the word 'groovy' -- however you handle it, it feels like it needed to be further grounded in the moment.)


He didn't want to be a father. My brother and I were a package deal that came with my mother. You see, he wanted her. This is clear to the reader already -- and I think it's stronger without adding this line.  In the spirit of showing rather than telling, I might omit the next one too, and start a new paragraph.  At first, he created the facade of being a father by being a husband.

The fondest memory I have as a child is a family moment where my older brother Luke and I sat in the large hallway and threshold of our third rental in Irving, listening to 70s records with my momma and David. Momma called the music groovy, a word I hadn't heard before.  She sat cross-legged, [add comma] swaying her shoulders to the beat while snapping her fingers. As she put it, the music was groovy. David playfully pulled Momma from the plush dark brown carpet where we sat with her, enjoying the upbeat music from the previous generation, and they began dancing in a picture-perfect moment. Her long dark hair flowed down just past her shoulders. Hair that falls only just past the shoulders doesn't seem long to me... maybe rephrase?  (Also, you use shoulders in the next sentence.) She barely came to David’s shoulders as she reached up to rest her hands on David's shoulders them as they danced in rhythm to the musicHeight difference is implied by her reaching up -- that's all you need.  And dancing is, by definition, moving in rhythm to the music.

If it feels too sparse after chopping that much away, it might be!  But I would restock the paragraph with further remembered detail, rather than rephrasing or commentary.  A good exercise before writing might be to make a list, filling a page with every detail you can about that room.  You might be surprised by how much more comes back, when you start pulling on the threads of memory.  Of course you won't use all of it, but it's a good way to add color and detail to your mental imagery before you start describing it -- and that tends to keep writing concrete.

Hope this is helpful... and best of luck with your project!

« Last Edit: January 09, 2022, 05:02:22 PM by Tallis »

Offline MelanieLang

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Re: Memoir-You Don't Know Me-1st paragraph
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2022, 05:56:55 PM »
Thank you! That does help. I have always been so factual, literal. I am working on showing rather than telling, but narrative writing, imagery in general, is not my strong suit. Of course, I know that is part of the territory when it comes to writing. I will work on it. I really appreciate the time you took to dissect the paragraph.