Quick advice on how to write & what to write about…

A couple of gems for memoir writers turned up in recent articles in the New York Times.

When you want a reminder of how much power a short sentence can pack, remember this line from George Orwell’s Animal House–“He carried a whip in his trotter.”


In The Short Sentence as Gospel Truth
, columnist  Roy Peter Clark writes about the “familiar and effective place for the short sentence” at the end of a long paragraph. Several examples illustrate this technique you can easily adopt to improve your own writing. Read the article here.

The next day, in Life’s Hard Lessons Jane Brody reviewed a new book by Norman Rosenthal, the psychiatrist who first described seasonal affective disorder. The Gift of Adversity suggests that faith in ourselves allows us to overcome temporary obstacles with greater ease. “Mistakes are our best teachers, so don’t waste them,” Dr. Rosenthall advises. He suggests we use the stories of our life-changing lessons as opportunities to change in positive directions. Read the article here…. 


As I take in these observations, they blend with previous research I’ve studied on the power of narrative to strengthen families. I arrive at the idea that writing about the lemons we’ve turned to lemonade could generate greater mental and emotional health, both in the writer and in the reader. True stories, well told–that’s what we need.

-Sarah White

About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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