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Find your real story by asking these questions

Like my life, my memoir has been a work in progress. The manuscript I have now barely resembles the one I started six years ago or what I thought was the finished product of two years ago. Writing it has been an evolution–of my emotions, my identity, and my story. Or, what I believed was my story.

My first draft was my mom’s story. My next draft or two was my father’s story. Finally, in my latest draft, I focused on the story of how my intuitive gifts developed throughout my childhood and into my present.

I’ve learned more about who I am and what my “real” story is in the last year then the 40-some years before.  And, I’m getting closer to a completed manuscript. I can tell because my story is generating more interest from readers and agents alike.

To focus my memoir and find my real story, I asked myself these questions:

  • What story do I want to tell? (Because we all have so many stories inside us).
  • What scenes relate to my main theme or story-line?
  • What scenes relate to my secondary theme or story-line?
  • What scenes don’t relate to either theme? Can I delete these? Any reason to keep them?
  • Can I summarize my story in 25 words or less? (More on this in a future post).

A few months ago, I bid on and won a silent-auction prize from the Surrey International Writers’ Conference: an hour-long consult with literary agent Elizabeth Kracht. Before our phone call, she read the first 50 pages of my manuscript and my book proposal. Though I had an idea of some of the things I needed to fix–for example, deleting part of the slow beginning–I found her advice invaluable. She not only gave me specific advice on my memoir but also tips for increasing my publishing credits and my visibility.

It’s one thing to interact with an agent at a conference or take their workshop, but that one-on-one consultation brought my understanding of what I needed to do to another level. Turns out, Ms. Kracht, offers her consultation service to other writers, as well. For more information about her services and fees, email her directly at liz@kimberleycameron.com.

In my next post, I’ll tell you how I “murdered my darlings” and shaved 50 pages off my manuscript in two days.

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