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Question
Dear Dorothy:

I'm writing a memoir--yes, I know, your area of expertise is fiction, not nonfiction, but I see nonfiction as using a lot of the same tricks and having a lot of the same issues as fiction, so I think you might be able to advise me, anyway.

I have written 3 chapters of my memoir so far, and while I'm pleased with 1 and 3, I feel that 2 sticks out like a sore thumb, though I'm not entirely sure why. The voice feels off, somehow. Unbalanced. You can tell 1 and 3 were written by the same person, but 2 sounds different--and it's not a good difference. I can't phrase the problem more clearly than this. Possibly, I don't have enough emotional distance from the material in that chapter, or I don't understand something about the story I'm trying to tell, or the emphasis is not on the right items--I just don't know, and it's driving me passably crazy. Can you help me?

I'm not a very experienced prose writer, but I have been writing and publishing poetry for close to 10 years, so there is at least one genre I know my way around. I think I could solve my problem if I pondered it for a few months, but I'd like that book to start progressing a little faster than a chapter every six months (what I've done so far). Is there any quick fix for this kind of problem? (I know I'm asking for an awful lot.)

Thank you for trying to help the writing community at large. It's generous--and rare.

Best Wishes,
Marie

Answer
Hello Marie,

Thank you for your question.  My advice is the same that I give to fiction writers. Do not worry about how it sounds, looks or feels until you have the entire story (autobiography) down on paper. It will be rough. No question about that; however, if you constantly drift from the memory mind to the editing mind you get bogged down.  Allow your memory to have freedom to remember and you just type it down. There is plenty of time afterward for the many re-writes you may do to make it sound good.  Doing it this way will probably result in more than one chapter every six months.

Poetry is usually shorter than a whole book unless you are into epics and even there you would simply write what comes from your creative mind without editing until you are finished with the first rough draft.  Try this and see if it works for you.

Happy writing,
Dorothy

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Dorothy K Morris

Expertise

I can answer questions about writing fiction, creating characters and re-writing. I cannot answer homework questions.

Experience

I am a published author of nine novels in The Mockingbird Hill Series.

Organizations
National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, NSDAR

Publications
NOVELS in the MOCKINGBIRD HILL SERIES: SECRET SINS OF THE MOTHERS, COYOTES OF CREEK CROSSING, THE EIGHTH EVIL, THE TIME IN BETWEEN, DIRTY RICE, TALLY'S NOOK, FROM THE FAR PLACES, NATURE OF THE BEAST, (THE RANKS OF THE INSANE (to come out summer 2016))

Education/Credentials
Studied writing at at American University in DC

Awards and Honors
Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in The World, Who's Who in America.

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