Memoir Basics 3: Adding feelings, judgments, and explanations


Feelings, judgments and explanations

McBride helps us to understand why this little episode is significant by giving us three things: a feeling (he was glad), a judgment (she was quiet and gentle), and an explanation (he was forbidden to play because she was a gentile). 

(What’s a gentile? Look it up for yourself!)

Here’s the same snippet, broken down.

When I was in the fourth grade, a girl came up to me in the schoolyard during recess and said, “You have the prettiest hair. Let’s be friends.” I said, “Okay.” Heck, I was glad someone wanted to be my friend. Her name was Frances. I’ll never forget Frances for as long as I live. She was thin, with light brown hair and blue eyes. She was a quiet gentle person. I was actually forbidden to play with her because she was a gentile, but I’d sneak over to her house anyway and sneak her over to mine. Actually I didn’t have to sneak into Frances’s house because I was always welcome there.

The Color of WaterJames McBrideSource

In this lesson, we’re going to look at ways in which feelings, judgments and explanations are used in memoirs to explain why events are significant. For each exercise, you'll get a snippet, and then an example showing how you could apply that style.  

You can:

  1. write something true about your life 
  2. make something up about your life, or
  3. imagine someone else’s life.

Let’s go!

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