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Experiential Writing in Don’t Remember

My second novel, Don’t Remember, is told strictly from the point of view of the main character, Julian Barnes. The reader doesn’t get the perspective of the other characters, only what Julian observes about them. This single-character focus is meant to allow for more insight into the psyche of the story’s hero.

There isn’t a lot of “telling” of what happened to Julian. Instead, it’s mostly “showing” which lets you figure things out yourself. This “less is more” strategy is intended to keep the reader in the trance-like state attained when one is totally engrossed in a tale.

Metaphors and similes were used sparingly, only if they were truly effective because when they are ineffective, they take the reader out of their reading trance.

The dream sequences in Don’t Remember were utilized as a way for the reader to get insight as to how Julian’s experiences are being processed by his subconscious, further enriching the reader’s understanding of the workings of the mind of the main character.

These techniques were used to make the reader part of the creative process by enabling them to experience what Julian is experiencing when he’s experiencing it. I call it “Experiential Writing.” My editors, Renni Browne and Shannon Roberts, went through the Don’t Remember manuscript eight times, ensuring, among many other things, that the story was experiential.

Of course, you the reader get to decide if I achieved any of the above and if I should’ve pursued them in the first place.

It took me four years to publish Don’t Remember after my debut novel, Have You Seen Her?, was released. I had back surgery for sciatica in between and most of the writing after the surgery was done while standing. It’s only been relatively recent that I can once again sit and write.

In the first section of the book, Julian is a patient in the hospital. These scenes were written before I was ever a patient in one. The first time I read what I had written after being a patient was intense, giving me the notion that these pages foreshadowed my fate. For me, that’s about as experiential as you can get.


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