August 8, at 7: I had bored my family to the breaking point by talking non-stop about comparisons between the book and the highly anticipated movie.
Not only do I devour memoirs, I also have written my own, and I coach memoir writers on turning their memories into manuscripts. Narrow your focus Your memoir should be written as if the entire book is a snapshot of one theme of your life.
Or consider it a pie, where your life represents the whole pie, and you are writing a book about a teeny-tiny sliver. Your memoir is not an autobiography. The difference is that an autobiography spans your entire life, and a memoir focuses on one particular moment or series of moments around a theme.
You want your readers to walk away knowing you, and that one experience, on a much deeper level. Angela is his mother, and much of the storyline focuses on her and how Frank saw her, as well as the role she played in trying to hold the entire family together.
Include more than just your story I know I just instructed you to narrow down your focus, but we need to think bigger in our writing pursuits. For example, if Hillary Clinton wrote a memoir about raising a child in the White House, she would be pulling in tidbits about how she handled the media, who she let visit her daughter during sleepovers and how she navigated the politics of parenting during her time in the White House.
Likewise, if Madonna was writing a memoir about reinventing herself after 20 years away from the public spotlight, she most likely would include what it felt like to return to the music scene and how she continued to travel and perform while raising her children. How does this apply to you?
Imagine you are writing a memoir about your three-week trek through the Himalayan Mountains. While the focus is on your trip, as well as what you learned about yourself along the way, it would be wise to include other details as well.
You could describe the geography and history of the area, share interesting snippets about the people and donkeys you interacted with, and discuss your exploration of life-and-death questions as you progressed along your arduous journey.
Tell the truth One of the best ways to write a powerful memoir is to be honest and genuine. When I wrote my memoir, Breaking the Silence: I wrote my book with brutal honesty, and it has paid off with my readers — and is bringing national attention to what is happening behind closed school doors.
One more note on honesty: Memoirs explore the concept of truth as seen through your eyes. Your story, the unique one that you hold and cherish, is enough. There is no need to fabricate or embellish. Put your readers in your shoes Powerful writers show, not tell.
And for a memoir writer, this is essential to your success, because you must invite your reader into your perspective so she can draw her own conclusions.
Instead, paint a picture for your audience so they come to this conclusion on their own. You might write something like this: Employ elements of fiction to bring your story to life I like to think of the people in memoirs as characters.
A great memoir pulls you into their lives: Many of the best memoir writers focus on a few key characteristics of their charactersallowing the reader to get to know each one in depth.
Introduce intriguing setting details and develop a captivating plot from your story. Show your readers the locations you describe and evoke emotions within them. They need to experience your story, almost as if is was their own.
Knock off their pants, shirt, shoes and underwear too! Leave your readers with their mouths open in awe, or laughing hysterically, or crying tears of sympathy and sadness — or all three.
Take them on an emotional journey which will provoke them to read the next chapter, wonder about you well after they finish the last page, and tell their friends and colleagues about your book.
The best way to evoke these feelings in your readers is to connect your emotions, as the protagonist, with pivotal events happening throughout your narrative arc. Most of us are familiar with the narrative arc. Your memoir is no different: You need to create enough tension to shape your overall story, as well as each individual chapter, with that narrative arc.
That moment when you realized your husband had an affair? Instead, you might say something like: He was using our money to woo another lady and build a new life. I curled up in a ball and wept for three hours — I had been demoted to the other woman.Jessica – THANK YOU for your post. Long time reader, first time commenter.
I lost my 24 year old son Jonathan 2 years ago in a fire (he is my only child) and after the numbness and shock wore off, I turned to food for comfort. Today, I’m sharing one of the oldest and most popular posts on Writing Forward. This one dates back to , but it’s still one of the most-visited posts on the blog and one of my favorites.
Creative writing is any writing that goes outside the bounds of normal professional, journalistic, For the first time in the sad and enchanting history of literature, for the first time in the glorious and dreadful history of the world, the writer was welcome in the academic place.
Images of Life: Creative and Other Forms of Writing (ed. Whether you curl up with memoirs on a frequent basis or pick one up every now and again, you know powerful memoirs have the capacity to take you, as a reader, for an exhilarating ride..
I’m a connoisseur of memoirs. In the past seven years, I might have read three books that weren’t part of the memoir genre. The day my grandfather died was actually the saddest day of my life. This is because as a child, I lived with my grandfather. Since I was living with him, my grandfather not only became the most important person in my life, but he was also my best friend with whom I shared my happier times and my sad times.
The Writing Prompt: Take an event from history and write a fictional account describing a conspiracy theory about what "REALLY" happened. Or, if you prefer, write a scene about a character who believes in one or more conspiracy theories.