On Point: A Guide to Writing the Military Story

On Point: A Guide to Writing the Military Story

On Point: A Guide to Writing the Military Story

On Point: A Guide to Writing the Military Story

Synopsis

Personal writing can be risky for anyone, but for military veterans, especially those suffering from post-traumatic stress, sharing stories can trigger painful and disturbing flashbacks. Writing is also risky for the ego. It is one thing to write a military story, especially one based on authentic experiences; it is quite another to muster the courage to share that story with others for critique and feedback. Award-winning journalist and author Tracy Crow presents a roadmap for writing an authentic, persuasive military story. Drawing from her personal experiences and those of other veteran writers, and from the insights of noteworthy writing and teaching professionals, On Point is the guide Crow wishes she'd had when she first began writing about her military experience. No previous writing guide specifically addresses the unique challenges and rewards facing soldiers who want to craft their military story with courage and candor.

Excerpt

Several years ago I prefaced my memoir, Eyes Right: Confessions from a Woman Marine, with these words: “Every Marine has a story.” Since the memoir’s release, I’ve had the privilege of reading and listening to many stories from veterans of all ranks and services—stories ranging from humorous to heartrending and from World War II to the present. What surprised me most, however, were the military stories I hadn’t expected—those from the families of military veterans. Through stories shared by parents, spouses, significant others, close friends, and grown children and grandchildren, I learned how the cross-generational impact of military traditions and customs, leadership values, long absences, psychological and physical wounds, and tragic combat and training deaths have shaped their lives and in many cases continue to do so.

At the heart of all those stories, whether shared by a veteran or a family member, appeared a yearning for deeper understanding. I believe writing about our military experiences can lead us to that deeper awareness of self and of our place in this world. My hope is that On Point will serve as a guide.

A few words about the title. On point, or taking point, is a military term used to describe the infantryman who will lead an often dangerous patrol. To be on point is to place one’s life in the riskiest of all positions. So risky, in fact, that the point position is rotated from patrol to patrol. Writing is risky, too. in revisiting memories, I have keenly recalled the risk. As notable memoirist Patricia Hampl claims, “To write one’s life is to live it twice.” Revisiting my past over and . . .

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