Tag Archive - Memoir

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…

Telling the Truth, But Not Quite! The Autobiographical Novel

Today’s guest post is by ghostwriter Barry Fox.

It’s a common problem. You’re eagerly writing the story of your life from beginning to end when suddenly you get to that jerk you’d love to omit—you know, the ex-spouse from hell, maybe the sibling you haven’t spoken to in decades, or some other diabolical character.

You don’t even want to think about this loser, let alone write about him. Why open old wounds? Or you might worry that if you tell the truth about him you’ll hurt others, or maybe get slapped with a lawsuit.

Then there are the embarrassing “What was I thinking?!” moments in your life that you’d like to scrub from your story. Or maybe your life is somewhat convoluted and hard to follow; too many people, places, events, and other things to cover. You’d like to simplify things to make it an easier, more interesting read.

As a ghostwriter, I’ve been faced with this problem more than once. One of my clients requested just “a little adjustment” in her autobiography—meaning she wanted to leave out husbands number two and three. Another client, a man who’d had a lengthy relationship with a business partner, regaled me with stories of what a jerk the partner was—and that was when he was sober. When drunk, the guy could be a real terror. This drunk’s bad behavior seriously affected my client’s business and life, but the client insisted that I totally whitewash this bozo in the book. Continue Reading…

Beginnings and Endings for Your Memoir

I’ve been sharing excerpts from my new book The Memoir Workbook. Today we’re going to consider the starting and ending points for your memoir.

Your memoir obviously needs to start somewhere and end somewhere, and since you’re not writing an autobiography with the purpose of detailing your entire life, you need to spend time thinking about the time frame.

One writer suggests: “Start anywhere. Because no matter where you start, you’ll end up where you’re meant to be.” I disagree. From my experience in critiquing and editing hundreds of manuscripts, including memoir, if you start anywhere, you may wander off to Shangri-la and find yourself stuck in a snowdrift—not where you’d planned to go.

As with any journey, you need a specific starting point that will actually get you to your targeted destination.

Your memoir may cover three days of your life or it may cover thirty years. You could be writing a gripping story of the time you got trapped in a hotel during a tsunami or the year you spent living abroad. The duration is contingent on the particular story you aim to tell.

This is why it’s important to know your purpose in writing this particular memoir and your themes.

Since your memoir is going to pull from various anecdotes in your life to support your theme or topic, you want to determine what event in your life is best to springboard your story. Continue Reading…

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