A Little About Revising

It’s work!  Writing was relatively easy.  I’m not saying all writing is easy but writing a memoir can be as simple as transcribing your journals or letters.  Several of the memoirs I have reviewed were actually just a selection of letters and I am now beginning to understand why they simply let the letters tell the story.  Because my letters were so old and I was so young at the time I felt that more was needed.  So I took pits and pieces from my letters and used my letter to jog my memory.  Thus I find that I know have a conglomeration of memories.  Now comes the hard part, making them into a memoir.

I have read that revising is about making “big picture” changes.  The revision stage is sometimes called A.R.R.R. (adding, rearranging, removing, replacing).

Adding:  What else does the reader need to know?  What areas could you expand on?  Go back to your notes and memories to find stories you didn’t use.

Rearranging:  Even though I planned a chronological memoir, I may need to rearrange paragraphs.  Also look for duplication such as telling a story that happened before Easter, then telling it again from a letter that I wrote after Easter.  Also consider starting point for a strong starting paragraph.

Removing:  I will look for any duplication of stories or repetition of similar events.  How many Fiesta’s does my ready care to read about?  Look for things that don’t really fit.

Replacing:  Would more vivid details help bring the piece to life?  If a paragraph isn’t working, rewrite it. The memories are vivid in my head, are they vivid in my memoir?

Let the work begin.

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About Donna Strobridge Ianni

RPCV Philippines '67-'69
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