Memoir is an exploding category. More and more, people want to read real-life stories that bear witness to the poignancy, pain, and unexpected joy of life. Curiously, despite the popularity of the genre, memoir does not have its own category on bookstore shelves. Why not?
The first person “I” is a natural point of view for memoir and personal essays. But writers take a risk in using “I” – the risk of making themselves vulnerable and exposing something about themselves that readers won’t like. As an editor of memoir, there have been times when I thought the first-person narrator was a little self-absorbed, judgmental, or stuck in a refrain of blame. I feel that it’s part of my role to gently ask the author about their intentions in telling the story this way and to talk about possible consequences for their relationships. These conversations led me to ponder the risks and rewards of writing in the first person. What qualities endear me to a first-person narrator?
It’s harder than it looks to write dialogue that sounds natural. Writers can't just transcribe speech, with all its ums and ahs, false starts, unfinished thoughts, clichés, and often banal and boring sentiments. If you have a good grasp of dialogue mechanics, you'll be better equipped to avoid these pitfalls and write dialogue that reveals character, conveys feeling, and moves the story along.
For tips and tricks on dialogue mechanics, read on.
BOOK REVIEW: The Subversive Copy Editor, by Carol Fisher Saller
Aren’t they pinched-nosed mousy types with bifocals and buttoned-up blouses? Carol Fisher Saller, author of The Subversive Copy Editor (University of Chicago Press, 2009), thinks not.
BOOK REVIEW: Polishing Your Prose, by Steven Cahn and Victor Cahn
Brothers and scholars Steven Cahn (philosophy) and Victor Cahn (English) attempt something new in Polishing Your Prose: How to Turn First Drafts into Finished Work (Columbia University Press, 2013): they show the thinking that goes on inside an editor’s head.
BOOK REVIEW: Between You & Me, by Mary Norris
Should it be “short, balding man” or “short balding man”? “Bad hair day” or “bad-hair day”? Mary Norris, a copy editor at The New Yorker for over thirty years, relishes these sorts of editorial decisions.
BOOK REVIEW: What Editors Do, edited by Peter Ginna
What’s not to like about What Editors Do? This collection of essays traces the role of book editors from acquisition to publication and samples niches like editing genre fiction and working with self-publishing authors.
Editing books is the best job in the world. I'm always learning new stuff! In this blog, I review books and share my thoughts on writing and editing. I hope you share some stuff, too.