Tag Archive - Memoir

10 Tips to Writing True-Life Stories

Today’s guest post is by Brit Haines.

Writing true-life stories is cathartic. The process is healing, and authors often say they come out of the experience feeling like they went through an intense therapy session. But digging deep to produce these nonfiction stories hurts too, especially if you focus on a traumatic experience.

The pain can be enough to make you want to stop, to wonder if publishing the story would even engage your readers. Never let it hold you back. If you can think of it as motivation to move forward, your account could touch the lives of readers just like you.

Follow these ten basic tips to speak your truth. Here’s how to write true-life stories that resonate with your audience.

1. Dig Deep

Find a story worth telling. Readers see your emotion on the page. It’s safe to say that a tear-jerking moment in a book came from real-life author tears. Continue Reading…

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…

Mastering the Voice of the Memoirist

This post originally ran on Jane Friedman’s blog in 2017. Be aware there are mature passages in here.

Voice is like your fingerprint. Each of us has a voice when we speak aloud. We have a style of speaking, our own unique vocabulary and syntax and inflections.

When we write, we also adopt a “voice.” In fiction, each point-of-view character has a unique voice, which permeates both the narrative and dialogue. In nonfiction, the writer’s voice sets the tone and style for the entire book.

When we consider penning a memoir, we can (and should) carefully choose the type of voice that would best suit the story we are telling.

Setting the Tone

Voice is different from tone, but the two are connected. If you plan to write a humorous memoir, the tone will be funny and light (though you can have dark humor too), and the voice you would use would need to fit that tone.

Your story may be one of very painful, dark, and/or terrifying experiences. But that does not mean your tone should be dark, nor that your voice should be heavy, somber, or depressing. Continue Reading…

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