Matters of Life and Death, Part 3

This week I present the third section of Melanie Rae Thon’s exercises. Please see last week’s post for Part Two: Remembering.

Part Three: Filling the Gaps

The intention with these exercises is to fill in the gaps of your memory through imagination and research. Here is the place where the exercises move from strictly autobiographical to fiction (or into a world of memoir that extends beyond isolated experiences).


Choose something from your “I Don’t Remember” list that seems essential to the story. Try to render this scene or series of images you do remember. This is one of of the small, constant challenges of making fiction, a basic part of the process that requires great energy and attentions, and the willingness to explore your own imagination.


Every story requires research of some kind. Sometimes we need to do “traditional” research, in the library or online (prudently). Melanie Rae Thon notes that even authors like Tim O’Brien, who writes primarily based on his experiences in Vietnam, must research by reviewing his own journals, looking at photographs, reading various texts, and talking to other vets. This makes his writing fuller, more vivid and accurate.

Research may involve reading medical or historical texts, seeing films, talking to your mother, taking a journey, visiting a priest, going for a dangerous walk, witnessing a birth or an autopsy, eating fresh raspberries in February . . .

Your task?

Make a list of the things you need to understand more fully in order to make the story you have been brainstorming for the past week. Look into them as best you can in the most fitting way. Remember, you aren’t writing an informational analysis, you are hoping to make your writing rich and vibrant.

To Be Continued . . .

Categories: Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Matters of Life and Death, Part 3

  1. Pingback: Matters of Life and Death, Part 4 « Amber Kelly-Anderson

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