Just Write

How to turn memoir into fiction

Writing and magnifying glassWhat if you have written your memoir, or are in the process, and it just isn’t working? What to do?

You might decide to publish your work as fiction based on fact, rather than memoir. Adair Lara’s article might be helpful: “10 Ways to Tell if Your Story Should be a Memoir or a Novel” in the January 23, 2012 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine.

You can use prompts on The Write Spot Blog for inspiration, especially, “Make a list of pivotal events, Prompt #40” and “How to write fiction based on fact,” Prompt #41.”

If you don’t want to write about what happened exactly as it happened, you can use the emotions you felt during the event. Tap into those emotions to write strong scenes.

Sometimes it’s helpful to see examples of ideas you want to pursue. The following novels are based on fact.

Half-Broke Horses, by Jeannette Walls, is considered “A True-Life Novel”

Captive of Silence, by Alla Crone, is a “roman à clef.”

Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer

Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden

Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

We’ll explore the topic of where to publish personal essays in next week’s “Just Write.”

Meanwhile, keep writing. Decide later what you want to do with this precious writing.

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