Memoir Writing

Memoir Writing is a class I only offer once a year. Tonight I look forward to meeting a new class of memoir writers. A few fundamental questions come up regularly, so I thought I’d give the short answer about some of them.
Writing Tip for Today: Student writers want to know exactly what a memoir is (and isn’t). Here are some thoughts:

  • A memoir is different than “one’s memoirs.” A memoir tells a story of a particular person at a particular time of life, illustrated by using fictional techniques such as scene writing, pacing and dialogue. Autobiography can mean memoir, but for me, autobiography and “one’s memoirs” or a legacy book has come to mean a chronicle of a life rather than a story.
  • A memoir may be book length or essay length, but it must be focused upon a theme, a time span or a phase of life that readers will identify with.
  • Just because a person has lead an “interesting life” that person is not an automatic qualifier for a publishable memoir. Most well-known memoirs (as in book length works) fall into two categories: celebrity or compelling storytelling through fine writing.
  • Most ordinary people won’t find a traditional publisher for a book-length memoir. Exceptions are the compelling writing and storytelling or a celebrity status.
  • If you want to write a memoir of your life for your family & friends, consider self-publishing. This type of book is often called a “legacy” book.
  • As you write the story, it will be helpful to write it as you would a novel–complete with scenes, dialogue (even if you don’t remember exact words) and leaving out the boring stuff.

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter0Pin on Pinterest0Email this to someone

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *