Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Guest Author: Alison Neuman

The Writing Process of Nonfiction versus Fiction
by Alison Neuman

Writing my memoir Searching for Normal was by some measures much easier than the fiction I'm accustomed. For my fiction, I stick to the process of using the three act structure made popular by Aristotle. The three acts provide me an idea of when my characters should be finding their moments. With the acts markers, I can build a timeline with details of each character and which page the action should occur. As the memoir is based upon my life, the chronological order of the events. While having the events presented was a help, choosing which events required some consideration. This was the point where the themes and character growth became decision makers for each event. If the event, say learning how to drive, did not advance my theme of achieving normal or aid my characters to grow, it was eliminated from consideration.

In a lifetime, real people come and go. In a memoir, there is a set group of people who have made entrances and exits and play a part in the journey. A life is filled with numerous people but a memoir does not require the reader to meet nor know every person that has made a different in the writer's life. This was one of the differences in writing nonfiction that I found challenging. With many relatives, and not wanting to leave any out and make them feel neglected, my first draft included all my aunts and uncles. As the editing process began, I had to analyze each scene and decide if the scene was advancing the story, characters, themes or plot. My editor gave me a quote to keep in mind when we were completing the final edits: "all the people are important in your life but not in your story."

I also had to keep in mind during the memoir writing process that it was important to me to have the book be truthful to my memories. After all, every person has the possibility to remember a single event in a different way. This consideration also included deciding how to paint each character. Every person has good and bad days and if a snapshot was taken and provided to everyone on a bad day, it would not give a true picture of the person. Additionally - let's face it - these were real people in my life whom I would still be interacting with. I gave some of the people the book to read and provide feedback as to their character portrayal. Each character was also provided a fictional name to provide them some anonymity and space. While writing nonfiction and fiction have many different features, they also share themes, plots, characters and editing.

About the Author

No one ever expected Alison Neuman to live past the age of three, let alone become a successful author and performer.  

Now, an inspirational figure, Neuman has never let the painful disease she suffers with, dermatomyositis, dictate what she can and cannot achieve in her life.

An award-winning singer, Neuman has even done dance performances with the iDance and Cripsie Groups in her native Edmonton, Alberta, Canadian hometown.  Along the way, she has become a college graduate, earning a degree in creative writing from MacEwen College, despite being told she'd never amount to anything.

Searching for Normal is her memoir and anthem to anyone who is suffering through sickness or obstacles that seem too impossible to overcome.

"You can and will achieve life's greatest dreams," Neuman says, "if you take it one step at a time; even if that step is while you navigate via a wheelchair."

For More Information

Visit Alison Neuman’s website.
Connect with Alison on Facebook and Twitter.
Visit Alison’s blog.
More books by Alison Neuman.
Contact Alison.

Searching for Normal: A Memoir

Author: Alison Neuman
Publisher: Fireside Publications
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

About the Book:

They thought she was going to die. At three-and-a-half years old, bed-ridden shivering in a cold sweat, Alison Neuman's tiny fingers wrap around her mother's for strength.  But even at this age, Alison is determined to beat the odds.  

When years of hospitalization robs her of most of her childhood, she finds joy.

When children and adults avoid her like the plague, she finds friendship.

When she cracks her skull in a playground accident, when her math teacher holds her back a grade, and when she is mistreated by the medical professionals that were entrusted to help her, she finds strength.

And even when it becomes clear that the painful disease she has, dermatomyositis, will leave her wheel-chair bound for the rest of her life, Alison does not let it defeat her.

She will conquer it, she will achieve her greatest dreams and along her journey to finding normal,  she will find joy, humor, passion and music.

In this inspirational true story, Alison Neuman tells of her daily mission to triumph over pain,  to prove wrong the naysayers that say she "cannot", and become a reminder to us all that can't is only a mindset and happiness is a choice.

For More Information

Searching for Normal: A Memoir is available at Amazon.
Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Watch the book video at YouTube.


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