Memoir is similar to many elements of fiction: Careful scene setting, pacing, tension, conflict.
Seduce the reader with a confiding tone.
Reveal secrets. The best secrets are those that the author reveals or learns about self in the process, “Ah, did I really think that?”
Readers are interested in your conflicts.
It’s important to modulate good times and bad times.
“The best memoirs explore and reveal conflict in a way that illuminates and startles.” —Kat Meads
Consider the scope of your memoir. It’s not necessary to start from when you were born and work your way up. Don’t try to write about everything. Take one aspect. The year you were in Paris, for example.
If you go with a chronological way of telling, share just the important events that shaped you.
The idea is to look objectively at your life to write a richer subjective memoir.
Part of writing memoir is reacquainting ourselves with ourselves.
Ways to delve into writing your memoir:
Your childhood home
~Draw a picture of a house you grew up in. If you grew up in more than one house, pick one at a time to write about.
~ Write three memories that took place in this house.
~Put an x on those rooms where the memories took place.
~Write a paragraph about an early memory that took place in this house.
An eventful day
~Pick a significant day in your life. Write a brief paragraph about what the event was and why it was significant
~List five or eight details about that day
~ Write about five items that would define you to put into a time capsule
Lies, humiliation, secrets
Write about a lie you told. What were the circumstances surrounding that lie? What prompted you to tell it? What were (or are) the consequences of that lie? Did you get away with it? What effect has it had on you?
Sentence starter: “The day that _________ humiliated me.”
What is your longest kept secret?
“You must not tell anyone, my mother said, what I’m about to tell you.” —Maxine Hong Kingston
If you were going to start a memoir with that sentence . . . what would you write next?
This blog post is inspired from a writing workshop with Kat Meads.
More about writing memoir:
#amwriting #justwrite #memoir