Yesterday during worship our assistant pastor asked our children if they knew what “being real” meant. Very quickly one boy, about 8, replied it meant being honest. Indeed, integrity and honesty bring us to the very height of being real.
Hiding nothing, speaking truth, being authentic. All those traits carry us into a state of being real.
Our pastor then stood up to share her message with us, we adults that is, continuing a message of being real. Her Scripture, found in Micah 6:8 (MSG), gave a clear image of God’s expectations of us mortals: basically, be real.
But he’s already made it plain how to live,
what to do, what God is looking for in men
It’s quite simple:
Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.
And then, as if she had not already given us enough to chew and digest, our dear pastor compares this Scripture to the story of The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, a charming tale in which a tiny stuffed rabbit asks one day, “What is REAL?”
An older and much wiser toy advises the rabbit that to become real one must be loved and adored by the Boy.
Isn’t being loved and adored what we all strive for and want? Even we who are writers.
We want our readers to love, or at least like, our work. But how do we achieve that level of readership?
By being REAL! If you’re writing fiction this may not be so important to your work’s popularity, but if you’re writing memoir, how do you gain that following and perhaps adoration of readers?
A few of my thoughts as I listened yesterday to Micah and the small stuffed rabbit’s story:
- Reach deep into your soul to bring forth the most honest of your memories. If it isn’t possible to reach certainty on a particular scene or memory, offer your reader a disclaimer, i.e. showing your honesty of not remembering everything.
- Write in such a way that your story comes across as real to your reader. Use of place names, perhaps photos of places and people, music of the time period — these may all bring reality to your book.
- Never be afraid to show your emotions. Emotion, even anger and fear, make your story real to people reading. After all, we all experience emotions from time to time. A story without emotion and feeling is boring.
- Make sure your character development receives the same treatment you would in a work of fiction. Describe each person (features, mannerisms, quirks), and then make sure each one’s personality shines through, good or bad. Then they are each one real.
These are a few tidbits that came to mind, and then I had to turn my attention back to the service or be caught not paying close attention to our always interesting pastor.
I am certain some of you can share other ways we can make our stories more real to our readers.
What methods or tips are you using to make your memoir real?