Tag Archives: writing memoir

Memoir: From Reality to Reality

Laughing Penguins

A memoir is often seen as a single-dimensional ‘truth’ about a writer, the writer’s self-expression or confession. A memoir, in in fact, is the writer’s perception of truth, and her need to express that perception in her chosen format.

And so, a memoir is the writer’s journey from reality of lived experience to the reality of ‘worded’ impressions.

There are things in a writer’s life that present themselves unasked, uninvited, right there at her desk; then there are moments that demand the writer’s focused attention to reveal themselves; finally there are faraway wraiths of memories that desperately seek writerly resolve, and vital emotional effort to divulge their core and deepest essence. This is the truth; so is that; and so is that.

On the other side, a reader of a memoir fixes her gaze on a single familiar face: this is what she thought, this is where she ate and…

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9 Things That Make Your Memoir a Great One

writtenwrong

There are a variety of things that readers and writers alike would say about great non-fiction and memoir writing. Here are nine that I feel best encompass what makes these stories so great.

  1. Honesty. Your audience wants to know the good and the bad. That means some of your darkest secrets or embarrassing moments may be revealed. Sharing your imperfections is a great way to open your audience up to their own, creating a deeper connection. Make sure as you recollect the adventures you have experienced, use the simplest moments alongside the biggest moments and make them feel like the day to day life you actually live.
  2. Humor. Speaking of moments, we all have ridiculous things happening to us on a regular basis. I for one am known for my uncontrollable laughter. Even when we tell stories that someone doesn’t laugh at, it can spark something inside of…

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Untangling the Messes: How Much Truth to Put in the Memoir?

Two Drops of Ink: A Literary Blog

By: Marilyn L. Davis

“A storyteller makes up things to help other people; a liar makes up things to help himself.” ― Daniel Wallace, The Kings and Queens of Roam

yarn tangled and in a neat ball

Near-death motorcycle accident at 17, cervical cancer diagnosed at 19, hysterectomy at 23, drug addict by age 30; does any of that sound familiar? Probably not, and so I’d lose readers before they even picked up the book.

Memoir must contain more than the events or even the highlights of that life; there has to be similarities in the readers’ lives in order to touch them and keep them reading.

This is where each writer finds their theme -that distinct, but unifying idea of the writing, because universal themes transcend gender, age, and race.

“It isn’t enough to have had an interesting or hilarious or tragic life. Art isn’t anecdote. It’s the consciousness we bring to bear on our lives…

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Finding Theme

 

This strategy works especially well for writing memoir also.

The Taming of the Muse

About two and a half years ago I went to a writer’s workshop taught by Kelly Sue DeConnick.  I talk about that workshop a lot, because it pretty much changed my life.  I had been writing for as long as I could remember, but that workshop was the first time I really started to see how stories are made.  She also said she often starts with characters, which leads to plot, which leads to theme.  

Not everyone writes this way of course. In both novels and comics, there are great writers out there that start with plot, or theme, and work at it from another angle.

Do what works for you.  If you are not sure what that is, play with with different ways of approaching a story.

This is what works for me, most of the time:

I start with character, sometimes I have a plot or backstory…

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Writing a Memoir Like a Novel: Six Elements of Fiction

Cate Macabe

Novel Memoir Series Word CloudIn my ongoing series, Writing a Memoir like a Novel, I share what I know about writing fiction as it applies to memoir. I hadn’t tried my hand at a memoir until I took on the project that became This New Mountain, but I have written short stories, novellas and novels. You might understand, then, why my approach to writing AJ Jackson’s true story (of a feisty private detective and grandmother) included the elements that make up a work of fiction.

If you’d like your memoir to have the depth and flow of a novel, try adding fictional elements — and check out my posts about crafting characters, setting, dialogue, a compelling opening, point of view, and story arc. Here are the summaries of the six articles in the series so far:

Characters

Apply fiction techniques to your “built-in” characters to bring your story, and the real-life people who inhabit it, to life. Physical description doesn’t tell us who a…

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