Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Finding the Story that Surrounds the Pivotal Event

Whether you are writing a memoir or developing character background, this is an exercise that can help you find the “story.”

First make a list of pivotal events from your (or character’s) life: for example, first day of school, a move to a new home, a first kiss, first loss of a family member, etc.

Choose an event from your list. Free-write for 10 minutes what comes to mind in response to these questions:

• What did you (or your character) desire in your life before this pivotal event?
• When and how did this desire begin or intensify significantly? Could this be the beginning of your story?
• Did you have a struggle in trying to fulfill this desire?
• Did you learn anything from the struggle?
• How did you change after the final pivotal event? • What did you do that indicated this change?
• What did you realize when this stage in your life came to an end?
• What do you perceive now as you remember it? When you read over your answers, you may begin to sense a story: a desire, a struggle and a conclusion.

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A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in North-central Arizona. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, won the national WILLA Award. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.


4 comments:

Shirley Corder said...

Thank you Heidi. Some good suggestions for brainstorming here that apply to non-fiction as well as fiction.

Kathleen Moulton said...

Heidi, I am taking a short course with writing prompts and free writing. I couldn't believe how much it drew from me. I used to think I couldn't write "on demand" or that it would prompt more thoughts and more writing. Now I know better!

Thanks for sharing.

Karen Cioffi said...

Heidi, great brainstorming ideas. I've never started with pivotal events and worked around them. Very interesting.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Great questions

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