Rod Raglin

This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection,  the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.

Memoir lacks basics of good story telling


 Lorraine Ray’s Phantom Strays, is a memoir, but really the events remembered are so insignificant as to be of interest only to the writer.


The first such event is about the narrator retrieving her sister from the line up of The Beatles movie A Hard Days Night and experiencing beatlemania Tuscon style.


The second is her experience as a child at an asthma clinic.


I stopped after that.


The parts of Phantom Strays I read were mostly told by the narrator’s mother who talks incessantly in a nonsensical flow of consciousness. This is cleverly written and would be interesting if there were just a few examples of it, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Very soon this reader began skipping vast chunks of the mother’s monologue looking for something of interest in the story.


Good memoirs don’t have to have exotic settings or detail significant events, but something dramatic has to happen to the character, and by dramatic it should be life changing if not life threatening.


Sometimes life events don’t quite unfold in such a way to make an interesting story. It is then up to the writer to chop, change and rearrange to make it so, because a good memoir should contain the basics of good story telling: goal, motivation, and conflict. It should begin with an initiating incident and the plot should move forward with rising tension that culminates in a crisis and then a resolution.


Phantom Strays displays none of this craft, but rather appears to be random reminiscences of a specific time in the author’s life presented chronologically and only connected by common family members. If it became more interesting further in than perhaps the earlier stories should have been omitted. Good stories can be overshadowed by poor craft.


I downloaded this book free from Smashwords