Thursday, 8 October 2009


Memory is an important ingredient in writing. We use it all the time. Even when we write fantasy or science-fiction we are using our knowledge of how the world works. We look at scenes in our imagination and set about writing with our senses. But what makes us choose those particular visuals, those particular sounds, those tastes, those smells and feelings? And the colours we see and the order in which we describe the details?
Our mind jumps around in a particular random way and we seem to have three levels of consciousness, almost. There is the higher self, having its grand thoughts, often analysing and symbolising the world. A matter-of fact voice then just describes what is happening in human terms and a third part is just aware physically of the world around us. Which voice speaks in those rich scenes created with the senses?
I’ve been teaching this week about the characteristics of the novel and about writing autobiography. Both can use some of the same techniques and it’s often all to do with bringing the reader into the middle of a scene, setting them in what feels like a real time / space. We create that scene with our imagination and our memory and our imagination is based upon our memory.

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