Friday, March 10, 2006

Capture the Moment

Do you capture the moment? Some people attempt to do it with photographs. While I took a photography class in college (it was a requirement), I’ve never been much of a photographer. Instead I capture my moments on paper. It might not be pretty and perfect but the essence of it is on paper and will serve to jog my memories for the rest of it.

As each of us trip through this experience called life, we have loads of personal experiences. Our child may say something priceless that we will soon forget.  We may feel some emotion when someone cuts around us in traffic and screams something unusual. Or you may simply observe some moment between two people.  Pick up a notebook or some other means you create to capture those details.  Often I will go to my computer, open a file and type in a bit of dialogue or capture the incident. You never know when that experience will be valuable to include in a piece of writing.

Many magazines look for personal experience articles. For some of the large circulation magazines, you need a dramatic story but it is possible to find those stories.  For other publications, your dialogue and experience will drive the telling of that story.  Many years ago, our family was tied up in a crisis. Our child, Daniel, was dying and we were caring for Jonathan, then a three-year-old at home. I wasn’t writing much at that time but I did manage to capture some of the moments and dialogue.  I scratched out this bit of dialogue after Daniel’s death: “One day Jonathan and I were listening to the words of a chorus: “He Is Our Peace.”

“Jesus is our peace--right, Daddy?” Jonathan asked.

“That’s right, Jonathan. Jesus is our peace, and he is the One who is going to carry us through this new day.”

“Jesus carried our Daniel up to heaven.”

“Yes, Jonathan, today Jesus is carrying our Daniel in heaven,” I responded with tears in my eyes. Like us, Jonathan continues to miss his little brother.”

Now originally this bit of dialogue wasn’t as complete in my scratching—but ultimately it became one story in my personal experience called “Schooled in Death” which appeared in Decision and reached millions of people.

Was it easy to write those bits of dialogue? No.  I made a conscious choice and effort to do it.  No matter what is going on in your life, you can do it too. Some of these incidents may never appear in print while others will be something you can use in a magazine article, part of a chapter of a book, or any number of other uses.

This week, I’ve been traveling down memory lane for me with some of my older books. I’ve been flipping through them and pulling out a single story for the God Allows U-Turn blog where I’m a guest blogger. It’s been a means for me to return to some old captured moments where as a writer I captured moments for someone else. 

2 Comment:

At 5:46 PM, Blogger Ileana Left a note...

I just received Syd Field's Screenplay in the mail. I would like to write some of the dialogue that runs through my mind every now and then...conversations with my husband, the kids and my Cuban parents. There's always something funny, thought-provoking or inspirational on my mind.

I love your blog. I found the link on Cowboy Sunsets' site.

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...


I was unfamiliar with the Syd Field book. When I went to look for it, I learned it's a good basic book but was originally released in 1984 then recently re-released last year. Thank you for pointing out this title.

I'm always looking for more things to learn about dialogue--because it is such a strong element in nonfiction or fiction. I do highly recommend Dialogue by Gloria Kempton. Gloria is a long-time Writer's Digest school instructor and has written a practical book on the topic for writers of all levels.

Thank you for the kind comments on my blog. Hurry back.

The Writing Life


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