This post originally appeared in That Money Girl blog on November 26, 2013 as Your Money Story…Pack It With Power
There is power in writing your money story. Your money story can transform you as it leads to understanding the money energy in your life and ultimately making that energy work for you.
In this post I write about three features you must utilize in the writing of a money story. These are character, action, and setting.
A story is not a journal entry. Ranting and raving fit into a journal but not into a story—unless it is in the dialog. Story has its own dynamics which in turn lead to their own conclusions. In writing your money story—as with any other story, connect to your story as a literary form—literary here refers to in writing not to Nobel Prize material. There are requirements that go into the creation of an effective story—whether written or spoken. As mentioned before these are character, action and setting.
1. Your characters are the people in your story
Describe your people in detail, using your sense awareness of them: sight, sound, touch, and tastes associated with them. Be specific. Your mother did not only scream she screamed in a high pitch. Your father not only swore at his bosses, he swore with all the energy in his lungs so that his neck turned red. Your grandparents were not only poor, they lived in a four room house with a porch that sagged in the the middle so that there was a row of boards laid down from the steps to the front door.
It is your job to bring vivid written characters to the attention of your readers. You must use descriptive details to present believable characters. Without other people, our lives and memoirs risk loosing their meaning. 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 questions we want answered. To write a strong story, capitalize on this interest. Remember: you are always your own best audience.
2. The action is what happened in your story
The action of your story is its PLOT. Something must happen in your story.
Listen to how a child tells a story. It is all action. Nuances of character and setting are immaterial to the child. It’s what happens that counts. Our reliance on action, on plot, doesn’t wane as we grow older, but our ways of using it grow more sophisticated.
One writer’s trick is to start in the middle of things. If you are writing about the time you got fired from a job, don’t start with the first vocational aptitude test you took in high school. Instead, start when you are first detecting a problem with a supervisor and then proceed from there to the unhappy conclusion. This sort of quick pacing will keep the interest of the reader and will keep you writing about what is really important.
Keep explanations and background material brief. Avoid the lengthy, informational flashback. Providing too much context can overwhelm your story and dissipate the energy of the action.
3. The setting is where your story happens
The setting is both the where and the when of your story. The where is the place in which the story occurs. It includes interiors and exteriors of buildings, the landscape, and the political demarcations (town, county, country, etc.). The when includes the calendar time as well as the history of the characters and of their community (family, group, nation, etc.). Setting, like character, is also best established with ample sense-oriented details.
Without the sort of tangible physical setting provided in the paragraph above, your story remains an ethereal piece—inhabited by phantoms in a conceptual space. You story needs to have a sense of place that is very real. Descriptive writing full of sensory details will do that.
To achieve the full power of telling your money story, respect the requirements of good story writing. Your reward in understanding will be all the greater.
A writing coach can help you at every step of the process. Having “been there and done that”—and being able to talk clearly about it, a memoir-writing coach can point you in the right direction and gently correct your course.
A coach is a teacher, a cheerleader, a critic, a motivator, a writing buddy, a person who holds you accountable for meeting your goals, a good listener, and sometimes an editor—and a coach can be more if you need more.
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