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How to Transform Memories into Memoir

Today’s guest post is by Kathleen Pooler. 

“It is the complicated, abiding pleasure, to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, of finding the universal thread that connects us to the rest of humanity, and, by doing so, turns our small, personal sorrows and individual tragedies into art,” says Dani Shapiro from The New Yorker. 

Finding a compelling story amid the rubble of memories and events is one of the biggest challenge of a memoirist. But the work goes beyond just identifying and writing.

Excavating the emotional terrain is part of the work of sifting through memories so you can develop a compelling “slice of life” story with a takeaway. In memoir, these “slices of life” moments or defining moments make up a collection of scenes in your memoir.

In a COVID-19 era, many memoirists are finding it increasingly challenging to stay focused. Perhaps starting with that one memory that triggers emotions might be a good place to start. Continue Reading…

Writing Authentic Dialogue in Memoir

Dialogue is the epitome of “showing” instead of telling. Dialogue brings characters to life and engages readers. If we have no dialogue in our “scenes,” those long descriptive paragraphs will get boring. These basic tenets apply to fiction as well as in memoir.

Dialogue adds “white space” to our pages, makes the reading move quickly, and helps keep our story from becoming cumbersome.

But dialogue can be boring, right? And who can accurately remember every word of a conversation? If you’ve ever had a fight with a friend or spouse, you know that it only takes a minute or two to forget something that had just been said—especially when it’s a hot, emotional argument. I’ve often blurted, “But you just said . . . !” and my spouse replied, “No way! I did not!”

Needless to say, we often have selected memory.

Unless you have tape-recorded every moment of your past, you are not going to remember, word for word, what was said. Continue Reading…

5 Surprising Tips for a Nonfiction Book Deal

Today’s guest post is by Lisa Tener.

You’ve probably heard the usual tips about getting a nonfiction book deal, particularly in the arena of prescriptive books:

  • “Grow Your Platform and Showcase it in Your Proposal.”
  • “Engage Your Community.”
  • “Write Something Fresh.”
  • “Showcase Your Credentials.”
  • “Capture a Strong Voice from the Start of the Proposal.”
  • “Include the latest research if there is evidence to back up your methods or advice.”

Those are all important ingredients to interest literary agents and publishers. However, there are additional strategies that many people don’t know that can make your proposal stand out. Continue Reading…

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