Answer these questions for the other major character in your scene (from Exercise 2).  If you don’t know what the actual answer is, use your intuition and role playing ability and from what you do know project answers.


A.    Who is the love in this person’s life?  Think about the emotions this person has in a relationship with whom he or she is involved.  Limit your answer to a single choice. 


B.    What is this person fighting for?  What or who interferes with this subject accomplishing his or her goals.  Most of us don’t live for realities, but for dreams of what might be. 


C.    What of special significance has happened to this person the year before, or if it’s more appropriate, what will happen to your subject within the next year? 


D.    Describe the humor in this person’s life.  Often we alleviate the serious burdens of life by doing things that strike others as humorous (Hamlet has some hilarious lines).  Identify the sense of humor of your subject or something  he or she does that strikes others as humorous. 


E. What opposites exist in this person?  What fascinates us about other human beings are their inconsistencies (if there is love, there is bound to be hate too; if  there is a great need for someone or something, there is a resentment of that  need as well).  


F.    What kind of discovery is this person likely to make about himself or herself?  Is there some kind of a revelation your subject will have?  What is it? 


G.   How does this person interact with others?  Particularly with regard to someone the subject should care about.  


H.   What is the source of this person’s importance? Reputation, money, power, title? Answer that for your subject.    


I.    With what place does the person have a close association?  It can be a geographic location, an office downtown or a summer cottage, or it can be a particular room in the house–a workshop in the basement, the kitchen, a couch in front of the TV…even a car.


J. What is intriguing about this person?  (When I think about my father I’m fascinated by how similar we are and how different we are.) 




by decade, 10 year increments or other intervals of time), or season–Time magazine, A Year in Province

around a key event as touchstone—(it’s like a slice of a sub sandwich)–On the Road,

embroidered thread or relationship —Fear of Flying, Bird by Bird                     

“bookends”—start in the present, go back, return to the present just before the end–Titanic.

a quilt-like pattern (such as interweaving past and present parallel situations)–Joy Luck Club


NINE ESSENTIAL STORY ELEMENTS (Tristine Rainer, Your Life as Story)


            Beginning                     Initiating Incident          


                                                      Desire Line

            Middle                          Struggle with Adversary

                                                     Interim Pivotal Events

                                                     Precipitating Event

            Conclusion                  Crisis




Every autobiography is the telling of:

            1.         The story the world told me.

            2.         The story I told myself.

            3.         (The story about myself I’ve discovered through writing about it)


One thought on “THE STORY ONLY YOU CAN TELL – Part 4

  1. This is the kind of stuff I think goes right to the heart of writing. People think writing comes from the heart — it needs a brain as well. fran

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