"Writing well is the best revenge," was one of Dorothy Parker's pithiest quotes. Parker, was a member of
the famous Algonquin Round Table where a group of contemporary wits and writers met, lunched, drank
and tried to outdo each other with quips and repartee.
Remember? Way back in middle school? You know. The best friend who dumped you? You can use her now. Not as a friend. That’s long gone. But the way she tossed her long blonde hair and employed a laugh that tinkled and a honeyed voice whenever that special football player was near. And the teacher who lowered your grade when you told him you weren’t going to college—you were going to be a star. Your villain could use the grating sound of his voice, and his matted hair and you could add the stubble that once belonged to the visiting uncle whose unshaved cheek chafed your face. Think about the aunt you confided in, who laughed and said, “You’ll get over it, sweetie.” She’s returned and makes her entrance in Chapter Two of your latest. She won’t know, she never reads a book—besides she’s now a blue-eyed blonde and three inches taller.
What about your first love? Whatever happened to him? He pops up now and then—sometimes a hero, sometimes a villain, sometimes a clown, sometimes the love of your heroines life. Then there’s the man you worked for and placed on an undeserved pedestal only to find that he’d stolen your idea and never gave you credit—what a strong and detestable character he is going to make. You will have to humanize him a bit.
Looking back and using something that may have left an emotional scar can change that memory into something fit to print. A dramatic revelation not realized until you think about your characters and plot and discovered something in your past not fully forgotten. A buried memory that gives you—the writer—a poke. Then the denizens of your past move into their new setting, inhabit another time and place, and change the scene, improve the dialogue and bring their part in your new plot to a fitting conclusion. Perhaps we owe them a few words of thanks.
We redo and edit our manuscripts—do you ever recreate and use memories you once thought best forgotten?