Dig Deeper, Memoirist: Emotional Connections

See if you agree with this statement: Writing that resonates with the reader, that is, unforgettable writing, connects on a primal level, using the emotions as chains that prevent the reader from disengaging from the story. In a memoir, this is especially true.
Writing Tip for Today: As humans we long for connection. We want others to understand who we are, where we’re coming from. The best writing contains an appeal to the emotions that goes beyond rational thought. But getting there isn’t always so easy. Here are some ways to deepen your memoir writing using emotions:

  • Approach in Layers. As in adding conflict, you as writer may need to address the same scene many times in order to get to the root of the story. Sometimes this revelation is a single “aha!” moment. Other times, you go at it again and again, searching for the deep note that will draw a reader in and not let go.
  • Write a letter. Write to the real life person on whom you are basing this emotional connection, but don’t send it. Mad at Mom? Furious at father? Write a screed, a rant, a blast to tell that person(s) what you really think. If you can get some of this anger or bitterness out, you may be able to uncover even deeper feelings of abandonment or other issues. Don’t forget to burn or destroy the letter.
  • Peace Out. While you may not be able to completely forgive someone, rewriting until you are both close in and also more objective will give the reader more to identify with than pure rage. Don’t forget to examine your own part in the relationship. Memoir readers hope for some sort of redemption, hope or at least a resolution of sorts, just like fiction readers.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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