All stories start in the gap

At the Talking Fresh: Charades - Sounds like Writing and Translation workshop put on by the Saskatchewan Writers Guild, I was only able to attend the Saturday presentations.

Alexandra Shimo was one of the presenters, and I took a lot of notes when she spoke. She spoke about how the euphemization of oppression makes it difficult to talk about the experience of being oppressed, because it leaves traumatized and marginalized people without the language in which to frame their experiences. To hear those stories, you often have to look to how people act, and then research the context for those actions.

Actions are where you find the physicality of the story- the immediacy of the story. Research is where you find the gap between theory and practice; a gap between what stories are told, and how the reality was experienced.

Shimo said that, "most writing problems are research problems". If your story is not flowing, step back and look deeper into the historical context and the details hidden by euphemisms. Look for the shame. Shame tells you where the gap is between what is experienced and what experiences are allowed to be discussed. Then, outline the gap with specificity. Stories are found in details, not euphemisms and cliche.

In the dominant narrative, oppression is justified through fear of a threat brought by the existence of the oppressed. Something they are challenges the status quo, and anything is justifiable to silence and erase that challenge. To find the silenced stories takes a lot of research.

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