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Vivid Characters Are Essential in a Memoir

Why Creating Vivid Characters is Essential

The people in your story are your characters. It is your task as memoirist to bring vivid characters to the attention of your readers. You must use descriptive writing to present believable characters. Without other people, our lives and memoirs risk becoming dull. Although ideas are pivotal for many individuals, relationships are even more commanding. We are intrigued with who other people are and how they function. “Who’s that? What are they doing? Where did they come from?” These are question we want answered. To write a strong story, capitalize on this interest.

In memoir writing, you create a strong, vivid character by describing him or her in sensual details. (The senses, of course, are: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.) The most effective descriptions of people make use of these.

Sense details make for vivid characters.

1. Taste

Let the reader sample foods associated with your past or with the person you are writing about. Perhaps a food image or a metaphor will give a deeper sense of the person’s personality.

Many people mistakenly believe that characters in a story have to be well-known to be interesting. When they write their stories, they search their pasts for when they might have crossed paths with the famous. Consequently they write about when they were in the same elevator with some luminary back in 1948. This is not necessarily something that will make your story interesting. A representation of vivid characters is more likely to entice your reader.

2. Sight

What did the person you are writing about look like? Describe height, weight, color, shape, posture, mannerisms, contours of the face, prominent features. How did that person move, talk, walk, sit? Describe the person’s clothing, sense of style, hairstyles. In what ways ways did that person typically express emotion with body posture?

3. Sound

This includes voice modulation, timbre, and pitch as well as favorite expressions, accents, dialectical usage. Don’t forget throat clearing, foot scraping, or the knocking of a wedding ring against glass as a hand cleared frost from a windshield.

4. Smell

Your text should make references to perfumes, colognes, pipe tobacco, barn odors, the scent of a kitchen, the aroma of a bath, or the smell of a workshop. Smell is one of the most evocative senses. A particular herb or soap or cleaning fluid can immediately return us to another time and place. Be sure to use that power in your descriptions.

5. Touch

Help the reader feel how rough your character’s skin was, or how smooth the clothing, how gentle the hands, or how furtive the caress. Your reader will think “vivid characters!”

Good luck with your memoir writing!

Sometimes to help you show up and do the writing, what you need is a writing coach to hold your hand and encourage you and sometimes you need a writing coach to point out technical solutions to your writing problems and sometimes you need a  writing coach to keep you honest (which will connect you to your source of inspiration). Click here for more info on coaching and then call 207-353-545 to book your complimentary session. In even is so short a time as  a half hour, you will be amaze at the movement you can achieve with coaching.

Do You Have a Story To Share But You Aren't a Writer?

We have helped many people whose lives demanded to be recorded but who themselves There is a difference between proofreading and editing.were not writers to create interesting and well-written memoirs.

We listen to you speak your story. We ask you a multitude of questions. Then we get to work writing. We come back to you with text and you make lots of corrective comments and we ask you a whole lot of new questions. Then, we go back to writing again.

Over time, your story develops into a memoir—one that you have shaped at every stage of the writing process.

We offer a free consult. Call today at 207-353-5454 to make an appointment.

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3 Responses to Vivid Characters Are Essential in a Memoir

  1. memoryman December 28, 2011 at 6:31 PM #

    Thanks for the listing. I appreciate it. Denis Ledoux

  2. Bonnie Bell December 29, 2011 at 6:55 PM #

    I appreciate your practical approach to memoir writing. How can I receive your blog?

  3. memoryman July 30, 2012 at 3:36 PM #

    Click the +FOLLOW icon that appears on both the top and the bottom right corner of any posting. Also by subscribing to our newsletter, you will be kept informed of new postings. For a newsletter, go to:

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