RUE and Memoir Writing

Yesterday I read a draft of a very good writer’s memoir. This writer has taught me, inspired me and is a dear friend. The introduction to the work, however, felt very explanatory. Another draft is in order.
Writing Tip for Today: One of the biggest temptations all writers face is to explain what they are trying to say.
  • Hook ‘Em Immediately. Like a fiction prologue, if your memoir or nonfiction opening is stuffed with explanations and back story, readers may not wait for the good parts.
  • Be Brief. You may have to provide disclaimers or other explanations, but keep them short. The acronym RUE (Resist the Urge to Explain) may help.
  • Reevaluate. Read over your draft and ask yourself exactly what information your reader must know going into the story or the point you’re trying to make.
  • Where’s the Camera? In many cases, the camera is still too far back from the reader. This doesn’t always mean we need to see more gore, abuse or awful stuff. For me, it usually means I’m guarding my heart in some way. For memoir, the purpose is to relate your experience to the larger human condition. You can’t hide behind your words if you want to tell the truth.

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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.

2 comments on “RUE and Memoir Writing

  1. Good ideas. I am always afraid to re-evaluate. I hate making more work for myself! But I am learning to be patient and just do what needs to be done to make things right.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

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