Write On, Wednesday! Writing about Home

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By Leslie Lindsay

Lately, a lot of the books I have read for pleasure have this underlying theme of home–and so does the novel I am working on.  Coincidence?  Perhaps.  We tend to be better writers when we read content that interests us–and that’s written in a compelling manner.  We also tend to gravitate towards information that may have some connection to what we are currently working on, struggling with, or have an innate interest in–it’s all the power of the subconcious. 

So, what have I been reading? 

  • THE GLASS WIVES by Amy Sue Nathan.  Home and family shifts for Evie Glass, but she still remains rooted in family. 
  • IS THIS TOMORROW by Caroline Leavitt.  A 12-year old boy goes missing in 1950’s suburbia. 
  • WHAT ALICE FORGOT by Laine Moriarty.  This one is actually a re-read.  Since the main (suburban) character loses her memory, I was drawn back to this one as research for my novel-in-progress, hoping to glean a few instances I may have…ahem…forgotten.
  • BLINK by Malcolm Gladwell.  This guy always fascintates me!  His other books line my bookshelves, too.  Okay, it really doesn’t have a ton to do with “home,” but it has a lot of great information on priming, which is the psychological term for preparing yourself/your unconscious for generating ideas, feelings, concepts.  Will it help with my novel?  You bet!

Since today’s topic has to do with writing about home–a concept woven into many books and so dear to our world, I wanted to emphasize–and share–some of the techniques I learned from the Writer’s Institute in Madison this past spring. 

I attended a session called “The Trail of Breadcrumbs:  How to Find the Way Back Home.”  It was taught by Angela Voras-Hills, (a Madison writer, editor, & intructor) and it really got me thinking about my childhood home.  While I realize not every project that encompasses “home” will have to do with childhood, this particular class did.  Some tips I gleaned:

  • Home is where you are your truest self
  • Home does not always equal house
  • Home is a psychological journey; it’s dynamic
  • Tie in regionalisms to your home story.  (“A schmear of horseraddish” was used as an example in class.  What other regionalisms might you incorporate for your hometown?)
  • Incorporate sensory details.  How did that see/feel/taste?  In writing we use auditory and visual details a lot…throw in something lovely, but unexpected.
  • Try to leave out the nostalgia. You must be slightly detached to make “your” memories of home come alive to a reader who didn’t experience it first hand.

So what are you waiting for…Write On, Wednesday!!

 

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