Last night I submitted my first writing piece to a Creative Non-Fiction writing contest. Recently my Dad told a detailed story of him and his buddies collecting food just after the Battle of Berlin. The event he told me about took place in a suburb of Berlin, Potsdam. When he told me the story he was laughing at his memories of their antics. My goal in writing the piece was to make sure when he read it, he laughed. I have to say, I was successful. Yay!
The piece is entitled TIN FISHING, recounting the event where Dad and his gang went to collect cans filled with food. The building where they were stored had been destroyed and the story recreates how they finally got the food they needed by collecting these cans. Some physics is necessary to understand what happened at one point but I have to say, Dad sure was a risk-taker and during that time and place “risk-taker” meant something different than it does today.
It will take two or more months before I will know what happened in the contest. I hope it gets published (they post more than just the winning pieces) so I can link it to this page. I also may submit it to other contests.
Something else happened while writing this. I learned about the process I need to take to write a new scene for the book. It is a process that fits my character but may help others who are trying to figure out this “writing” thing too.
1) When starting a new scene, I need to write a very generic shell of the event. Include bits of dialogue, time, place and who was there but avoid a lot of details and description.
2) Wait at least a day.
3) Go back and add description to places and people.
4) Wait a day or so.
5) Give it to some people who like to read a lot. Ask them to determine if the order of events makes sense, if the description is realistic or too dull. People who read different types of writing can tell you right away if your story pulled them in. Make sure these people don’t mind giving you constructive criticism.
6) Go back and make the opening paragraph more compelling to draw in readers quickly. Read through, out loud and with someone else listening (preferably – thanks, Mark). One can really pick up on any awkward word ordering, repeated words and passive description. Reading out loud is an eye-opener.
7) Fix grammar, punctuation, spelling then save it and put it away. Start on something new. You have to just stop at some point because editing can happen for an infinite amount of time on one scene. Stop, move on.
These seven steps worked for me. If you’re stuck or wondering how to write for yourself, try them, alter them and write! Dang, it’s difficult but oh so worth it.
Note to self: Since we no longer use typewriters, there is only one space between a period and the beginning of the next sentence.