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Lavinia
09-20-2005, 02:52 AM
Finally, I think I'm on to something. I've fumbled along with trying to write my Dad's story. But finally I think I have a way to organize it. I've written 25 pages but want to see if this would make sense to you as the reader.

Chapter One - 4-5 letters my father wrote during the war in their entirety.

Chapter Two - 2-5 pages of one of two things; 1) how it relates, sometimes very specifically and sometimes somewhat vaguely to my upbringing, or 2) how it relates to the conversations I've had with him during our weekly lunches that ARE related to what I've read in the letters.

Chapter Three - see chapter one

Chapter 4- see chapter two

and so on... Books it's similar to are The Color of Water and Three Weeks with my Brother.

Does that make sense to you and what category would it fall under? Memoir...biography...what?

Thanks in advance! Lavinia

Epicman
09-20-2005, 07:19 AM
WWII is one of my sub-specialties. This is just my opinion as I have never written the type of book you are. First it seems more memoir than biography.

What I would do with it? I would start with one letter and intersperse it with the 'big picture' referring to the events outside his immediate realm to deliver a full context of the times. Like how the war was progressing at that moment, the roles and decisions of the big players at that time and trace them all the way down until they affect him. Since I assume the letters are spaced out over a period of time you could begin with the background of him and the war. What led him into the service, what events were happening at that time, etc. It may turn into a chapter per letter. "WWII: One Man's Story" or one man's letters or one soldier's letters or "WWII: Letters Home" Something like that.

I wish I had the letters from my Grandfather - I could make an epic out of them.

Hope this helps

Glenn

Zoe King
09-20-2005, 09:55 AM
I agree with Glenn. I would use the letters as a framework for the book. They're the 'jewels' upon which to hang the narrative. Don't give four or five of them away at the outset, make the reader wait. Introduce the first chapter with the earliest letter, build the context around it, and take it from there. And good luck with it!

Zoe

Lavinia
09-23-2005, 01:27 AM
Zoe - Thanks for the idea. I think you're right. The first letter is actually from boot camp. There aren't many from boot camp as he was close enough to go home on weekends. But he talks about the basics - hair cut, shots, radio school and so forth, so it is a good beginning.

Epicman - You pose an interesting idea. Putting down the history of what is taking place in the war during the time he is writing the letters is a good idea. I'm not sure exactly how to do that, along with my own insights and I don't want to give them up. But I am mulling it over. My dad is a terrific writer, very detailed. The unfortunate part, for me is that because of threats he never talks about what he is really doing in the war. Before Iwo Jima and Okinawa he wrote two weeks of letters ahead of time and left them to be sent while he was out. This also confuses the whole thing as he remembers that he didn't want to lie in the letters about what he was doing, so he wrote true experiences that had happened before these missions. So as far as timeline it gets a little screwy.

I just spent the weekend with my dad and feel more of an urgency to get this done. He fell once, and just isn't the self he used to be. Anyway - Thank you both. Can I ask one more question, in case you (or someone else) still looks at this?

At times there is only one letter that has something in it that I want to write about. Would it be too confusing or disorganized if I may copy four or five letters and then some narrative in some cases but copy only one letter and some narrative in other cases?

Thanks so much for the responses! Lavinia

Zoe King
09-23-2005, 08:35 AM
At times there is only one letter that has something in it that I want to write about. Would it be too confusing or disorganized if I may copy four or five letters and then some narrative in some cases but copy only one letter and some narrative in other cases?

Thanks so much for the responses! Lavinia

I can't see any problem with that per se. I think as long as the content of each letter feeds into the others you're using in the same section, that should be fine. The letters are going to be such a major part of this that they should dictate the nature of things. This sounds like such a fascinating project Lavinia!