Memoir, Turning Points, and Character Development

Linda Joy Myers has a lot of good advice for memoirists. The most useful (in my opinion) is to note the turning points in your timeline. We moved around when I was young, so those were both anchor and turning points in my list. Times when I said yes to a new challenge went in, as well as times when I ran for cover and thanked my lucky stars I got out before the (metaphorical) bullets started flying. Then I put in when I met those special people who befriended me and changed my life. That’s when I realized I was missing something.

My brother, mother, father, Dennis Franklin, and Hal Franklin (taken by me in 1966)

The man on the far right is Hal Franklin, who befriended my father and changed his life by teaching Dad about photography. Dad dabbled with photography, but having a mentor made all the difference in the world. It made all the difference in the world to me as well, since Dad introduced me to the camera. Because Dad and Hal explored creating art with their pictures, I learned – without really noticing it – that everyone can be an artist. Put in enough time to learn technique, train your eye to really see, and you can create beauty.

While I may not write a memoir with this epiphany, I will keep it in mind when I am writing backstories for my characters. Who they are doesn’t depend solely on the turning points in their own lives, but also on the turning points of those who have influenced them. Whether those influencers appear in the book or not isn’t the point. They may deserve a book of their own sometime. Can you say prequel?

Luck and wisdom!

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6 Responses to “Memoir, Turning Points, and Character Development”

  1. Elaine Schmitz Says:

    I had to comment on this photo. The Franklin boys are a distinct contrast to your family. It’s as if you took 2 different photos and photoshopped them on a computer: Their clothes – plaid flannel? Their crooked legged posture. Their relaxed insouciance. As if Midwestern solidarity meets Western hi-jinx. This post made my day!!!

  2. Thea Says:

    When I think of turning points in my life, YOU are in the top 20 countdown. Joining AVQ, learning to use a rotary cutter, and participating in Progressive Party have all made a huge impact on my creativity – and on my overall happiness in life.
    You are a joy to know. Bless you!

  3. Susan Taylor Brand Says:

    I like the idea of the “turnings” in our life. I read a book about how to write memoir, “Shimmering Images” by Lisa Norton, and she said to take a big piece of paper, draw a river on it, and label the turnings on the river with the turnings of your life. And yet, I’ve never done it. I should have done. Maybe tomorrow.

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