Monday, November 12, 2007

Remembrance and Writers

Yesterday was Veterans Day. A day to remember and thank all our veterans for their selfless sacrifices. Without which the USA wouldn't be.

My father was a WWII Captain of B-17s and an instructor during the Korean war. So yesterday and today, I've been remembering.

He almost never spoke of his experiences in WWII, but the couple of times he did, my father's recollections were redolent with detail. The stories were of times that stood out during horrendous minutes, hours and days. With all the five senses described, the smells, sounds, sensations, sights and even the tastes of the experience.

As my father spoke, his experience came alive. I can remember these stories, vividly. My father was an artist and not a writer, but if he had written these stories down as he had told them, oh how powerful.

Now, when I'm reading and the writer "remembers" a story instead of only "relating" a story, then it's memorable for me as a reader. One way to write such memorable stories, use all the senses to re-create the experience.

There are others...fellow writers?


Jim Murdoch said...

Most people I know don't remember things in Technicolor with surround sound. In fact the story I'm working on just now centres on the protagonist's inability to recall things in the kind of meaningful detail she would like. Our characters are not omniscient narrators and it's important to remember that.

That level of recollection can however, if used sparingly, be very effective. Obviously your father didn't remember everything in that amount of detail.

In the book I'm working on just now, the woman remembers as a child sneaking outside one summer night down to the sensation of her bare feet on the still-warm paving; she still has to think twice to remember exactly what night attire she had on. This powerful memory is used to contrast with the difficulty she experiences in remembering even day-to-day about her father who has just died which is something she feels she should remember.

Conda Douglas said...

Good point, Jim. Of course, too much of anything can be exhausting for a reader instead of inspiring. Or if not exhausting, then even worse, boring, tedious and repetitious.

By the way, my thoughts on remembrance were first sparked by my friend Beth's blog:
Thanks, Beth, excellent post.