Step 1 Create a list of significant memories from your past. Begin writing your essay. Make clear to your reader when and where your action takes place. Things You Will Need Computer or other writing material. Accessed 14 September How to Write a Memoir Essay. Depending on which text editor you're pasting into, you might have to add the italics to the site name. Purpose of Writing an Essay. How to Write Personal Narratives. How to Write a Memory Paper.
How to Write Narrative Conclusions. Not only do I devour memoirs, I also have written my own, and I coach memoir writers on turning their memories into manuscripts. Your memoir should be written as if the entire book is a snapshot of one theme of your life. Or consider it a pie, where your life represents the whole pie, and you are writing a book about a teeny-tiny sliver.
Your memoir is not an autobiography. The difference is that an autobiography spans your entire life, and a memoir focuses on one particular moment or series of moments around a theme.
You want your readers to walk away knowing you, and that one experience, on a much deeper level. Angela is his mother, and much of the storyline focuses on her and how Frank saw her, as well as the role she played in trying to hold the entire family together.
I know I just instructed you to narrow down your focus, but we need to think bigger in our writing pursuits. For example, if Hillary Clinton wrote a memoir about raising a child in the White House, she would be pulling in tidbits about how she handled the media, who she let visit her daughter during sleepovers and how she navigated the politics of parenting during her time in the White House. Likewise, if Madonna was writing a memoir about reinventing herself after 20 years away from the public spotlight, she most likely would include what it felt like to return to the music scene and how she continued to travel and perform while raising her children.
How does this apply to you? Imagine you are writing a memoir about your three-week trek through the Himalayan Mountains. While the focus is on your trip, as well as what you learned about yourself along the way, it would be wise to include other details as well.
You could describe the geography and history of the area, share interesting snippets about the people and donkeys you interacted with, and discuss your exploration of life-and-death questions as you progressed along your arduous journey. One of the best ways to write a powerful memoir is to be honest and genuine.
When I wrote my memoir, Breaking the Silence: I wrote my book with brutal honesty, and it has paid off with my readers — and is bringing national attention to what is happening behind closed school doors. One more note on honesty: Memoirs explore the concept of truth as seen through your eyes. Your story, the unique one that you hold and cherish, is enough. There is no need to fabricate or embellish. Powerful writers show, not tell. And for a memoir writer, this is essential to your success, because you must invite your reader into your perspective so she can draw her own conclusions.
Instead, paint a picture for your audience so they come to this conclusion on their own. You might write something like this:. I like to think of the people in memoirs as characters. A great memoir pulls you into their lives: Many of the best memoir writers focus on a few key characteristics of their characters , allowing the reader to get to know each one in depth. Introduce intriguing setting details and develop a captivating plot from your story.
Show your readers the locations you describe and evoke emotions within them. They need to experience your story, almost as if is was their own. Knock off their pants, shirt, shoes and underwear too!
Leave your readers with their mouths open in awe, or laughing hysterically, or crying tears of sympathy and sadness — or all three. Take them on an emotional journey which will provoke them to read the next chapter, wonder about you well after they finish the last page, and tell their friends and colleagues about your book.
The best way to evoke these feelings in your readers is to connect your emotions, as the protagonist, with pivotal events happening throughout your narrative arc. Most of us are familiar with the narrative arc. Your memoir is no different: You need to create enough tension to shape your overall story, as well as each individual chapter, with that narrative arc. That moment when you realized your husband had an affair?
Instead, you might say something like:. He was using our money to woo another lady and build a new life. I curled up in a ball and wept for three hours — I had been demoted to the other woman.
When you follow these guidelines while writing your memoir, you will captivate your audience and leave them begging for more. But more importantly, you will share your own authentic story with the world. This post contains affiliate links. The Write Life thewritelife. New to the popular writing program? Get up to speed quickly and learn how to make the most of Scrivener with this course.
As the author of two memoirs, these suggestions are spot on. Sometimes better told from the middle. Yes, that is a great tip as well. Thanks for the suggestion! It seems to work better, as it looked a little bit like a patchwork and would have readers scrambling and back-peddling to check on a date etc.
Hi Carla, I work for a personal memoir company who help people record their stories which are then printed into beautiful hardbound books. We also assist with getting a digital version of your book on amazon. Please do get in touch, we would love to help you finalize it! I thank you for your help and look forward to writing my memoirs — to my first and only autobiography.
After reading the six points, I was inspired by the idea of having a memoir, something I was trying to avoid. I do have a finished manuscript which I had written in third person. The editor I sent it to gave me very candid and painful feedback. I am thinking seriously that he had good points and a memoir as opposed to creative non fiction is the only way that would make sense.
I need to know how the professional writer can work with me as I already have a manuscript. Who will be the author of the Book? Do you give advice? My memoir is of an unusual friendship that continued over four decades.
He was my Bible professor my freshman year. This week someone said I needed to put in tension. As near as I can tell, the tension was all in me. To further my dilemma, I am close to approaching Consequently, time, my time, is of the essence for me.
Thanks for reading this. Marilyn LaRonde Just in case: Congrats to you on writing your story. I suggest looking at story structure first. The Story Grid is a great way to delve into structure as well as editing. A suggestion not here on the list: Frame your story with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Start with dramatizing the inciting incident of the story, what kicks off the story in a big way, the punch to the gut. Complicate the story progressive problems. The challenges get bigger and bigger as the story goes on. Give the story a turning point in which the protagonist you have to make a big decision for which there is no turning back.
Have the protagonist answer the question in action. And then show the consequences of that decision as the resolution of the story. I knew I should go that route. Now I have to start over again with much excitement! This will be my first memoir. I would love to have any more tips anyone is willing to share. This is something I want to do and feel I need to do.
Hi Marilyn, Apologies if this is way off topic and not of interest, but the subject of your memoir made me think of a book I recently heard the co-authors discuss on a podcast. Just thought you might be interested. All the best with your own memoir writing! Would love to hear more about your memoir—do you have a theme yet? How exciting for you! Just finished research for my memoir and I also have all the documents that I need as evidence of truth.
If you reach out to me via email msh [at] thewritingwhisperer [dot] com we can talk about options. Thanks, Shannon, for these helpful tips. Good luck—and keep me posted! This story happened when I was in college and met the girl who became my wife.
The time was filled with heavy emotion because I also stood at a crossroads. And so did she. Shannon thank you for this brilliant post and extremely excellent timing!
So happy you found the inspiration to finish up. This is such a great article and with tons of nuggets. Loved it and learned a thing or two as well. Thank you Shannon for your sage advice. I appreciate what you say about creating a story with arc and viewing the people in the memoir as characters. Now I realize that I have 3 distinct events that happened in my life to shape me and I look forward to gearing my memoirs towards that goal.
Your advice opened my eyes to the possibilities…. Yes, go for the sliver method. I started working with a memoir writer today and once we narrowed the focus to overarching theme, it was much easier to find the slivers that fit that theme. Thanks for the helpful article. I have been hired to write the story of a 95 year-old woman. Her children approached me to do this, but she is excited about it and looking forward to seeing the book.
I guess it will be more of a biography than a memoir, but I want to include stories written as scenes, with details to keep it interesting. Have you read this book?
You might want to snag a copy and study the organization! Thank you Shannon for the great article! Most of my recent exploration into writing has been in blog format, specifically regarding grief and loss, and I would really like to begin writing about the happier times, and I believe a memoir is the way to begin. Mike—what a great idea for a memoir.
A memoir is a personal essay about a significant memory in the author's life that uses narrative devices like setting, character and dialogue. Molding your chosen memory to an appropriate structure, using vivid detail and examining the memory's significance can help you write a strong memoir.
If you’re interested in sharing your personal experiences through writing, consider learning more about the memoir essay. The following excerpt is taken from Crafting The Personal Essay by Dinty W. Moore.
At first blush, students assume memoir essays to be the easiest of genres to write. After all, memoirs are all about the student’s life -- a subject intimately familiar to them. And, against the grain of most academic writing, students are allowed to use first person. A memoir essay is centered on a significant memory from the past. The essay details that memory and explains how and why it is meaningful, as well as the influence the memory had on your life. When writing a memoir essay, it is important to illustrate the significance of the memory through specific.
How to Write a Memoir A memoir essay refers to a recounting of your life story, based around a specific focus, or a particular event that occurred in your life. Usually, there is a certain theme to the memoir, such as a specific topic you wish to discuss, related to specific memories from your past. A memoir essay is an essay that is centered on a past memory that is significant. They include writing about ones life over subject that is they are intimately familiar with. Memoir essay requires students to explain themselves in few in few pages.