Wednesday, 3 December 2014

About my Scottish Memoirs: What is a Vignette?

I am writing my Scottish memoirs as a series of vignettes so it seems appropriate to share what that means with my loyal reader. :)

vine leaf from pixabay
vine leaf with thanks to Pixabay

What is a vignette?

The origin of the word vignette was 'something that could be written on a vine leaf', in other words a short descriptive scene or sketch. It is free-flowing, a stream-of-consciousness writing, that is prompted by a particular focus. It might be a character, an event in your life, a setting or an observation. Each vignette stands on its own, a little slice of life that is usually particularly vivid and is written from your point of view. One could describe a good blog as a vignette but it could be anything that resonates with you, anything that is begging for your attention and for you to capture in words.

How to write a vignette

Vignettes are best approached as free writing, that is, stream-of-consciousness writing where you give your mind free rein. This doesn't mean it is sloppy writing because after you have captured that first slice you still need to edit it, and edit it again until it is smooth and as perfect as you can make it.
To write your own vignette, first of all sit quietly at your computer and let a topic come to the surface of your mind. It might be a memory from childhood, say a day at the zoo, your first day at work or the birth of your first child. Make it something that is ringing bells, begging to get written. Let's take a day at the zoo to use as an example. Take time to remember the day - was it warm and sunny or damp, who was with you, what did it sound like, smell like, how did you feel? Bring up memories of the taste of candyfloss or the pleasure in feeding monkeys or the feel of fur as you petted animals in the petting corner. Once you have submerged yourself in all that day meant to you, write it down, type it out. Keep going until it is all on the screen. At this stage don't worry about spelling, grammar or format - that comes later.
When you have it all down, go back and edit it once, then leave it alone for a day or so and come back and edit it again.

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