How to Write a Memoir?
If you have read the memoirs of famous people, you know that they have the capacity to involve their readers by amusing and intriguing them. Although you may think that a memoir is a rather dry paper, we assure you that it is not. The best memoirs tell compelling stories that say much more about their authors than other documents. Of course, by learning about the experiences, memories, and feelings of the writer, it is possible to understand his or her novels better. Knowing how to write a memoir, you will be able to impress your reader by an interesting story from your life as well.
Although each memoir is written in a specific way, there are some common rules that should be followed by everyone, who wants to make the memoir appealing to the reader. The primary purpose of this guide is to familiarize you with the essential tips and secrets of memoir writing so that you could polish your writing skills.
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How to Write a Memoir?
If you are wondering “Why should I write a memoir,” you should understand that it is your chance to take your readers into a wonderful journey they will not forget. In this article, we have the tips collected by the best memoir writers. Besides, we have studied a lot of memoir examples in order to understand what things do they have in common. So, let`s start:
- Make your focus narrow. Your memoir should tell some story of your life. That`s it. Please note that your memoir is not an autobiography. Whereas an autobiography discusses the whole lifespan, your memoir should focus on some significant moment of your life that is worth discussing. Writing your memoir, you should do everything possible to make your reader share your experience, as well as understand your feelings and motivation. Let`s discuss a memoir paper taking Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt for example. This memoir is based on the author`s experience as a first-generation immigrant child. Much of the memoir is focused on the author`s relations with his mother Angela and her attempts to keep the family together;
- Include much more than just your own story. Even if your story is your main focus, you need to think bigger. If Bill Clinton would be asked to write a memoir about his living in the White House, a dry paper would only focus on his political actions and events. However, the audience likes to read about the feelings and emotions of the individual. That is why, if you are going to discuss some important events that happened in your life, make sure to tell what emotions and insights it caused. If your reader can understand your feelings, it means that you managed to reach your goals. For this purpose, you need to make your memoir as detailed and informative as possible. When telling about some trip, you need to describe your destination in detail using vivid descriptions, as well as the right words to describe your emotions from this trip. The main goal of your memoir is to tell YOUR story. However, making it too dry and not informative, you will lose the interest of your readers.
- Be genuine and honest with your reader. If you decide that it would be better to make up some information to engage your readers, we assure you that this strategy is wrong. Only by telling your readers what you really felt or experienced, you will be able to create a special atmosphere. Of course, it does not mean that you should hurt your friends or family telling about the events that influenced them somehow. However, you should understand that telling the truth is the only option if you want to write a memoir that will be interesting to your readers. When John Smith wrote his memoir “My final month as a football coach,” he had a great dilemma. “If I reveal the truth, I may be excluded from the Football Association.” However, he knew that the football players, their patents, and other coaches deserved to know the truth. Writing his memoir with the brutal honesty, the coach was rewarded by his readers because he managed to bring public attention to the serious problem, the lack of financial support of his football team. Being honest, this man has made a great contribution to the development of this sport in his native town. However, there is some controversy about being honest in the memoir. You should always keep in mind that your memoir will explore the concept of truth seen through your eyes. You should realize that other people can have totally different opinions about your story. Therefore, you should try to be as objective and unbiased as possible. Try not to exaggerate or hide the truth. There is no need to fabricate facts. After all, you should not seek revenge or ask for forgiveness in your memoir.
- Put your readers in your shoes. The best writers show, not tell. As a memoir writer, you should understand this rule very well because your task is to invite your reader to your own story allowing them to draw their own conclusions. The best way to reach your goal is to tell your story without hiding any details and using vivid language. This technique will allow your reader to visualize your story understanding what you are going to say. Perhaps, you would like to tell about your memoir when you were left at home with your grandparent, who was a raging alcoholic. By saying this directly, you will sound too critical or judging. Instead, you need to draw a picture so that your readers could make their own conclusions and understand all the horrors you had to overcome.
- Use fictional elements to bring your story to life. Think of the main people mentioned in your memoir as the characters of the book. A successful memoir will help them develop allowing the readers to understand their motivation. If you want to write a great piece, you should provide your characters with some features helping your readers understand which characters require a deeper investigation. Be sure to make the plot of your story intriguing and captivating. The reader may easily lose interest in what you say if you only tell what happened to you without introducing interesting details. If you would like to know how to evoke interest in your reader, you need to study the great memoir examples available on the web. The famous writers and poets have written hundreds of great memoirs for you to improve your proficiency. In particular, you will understand how to introduce the elements of fiction to your story.
- Make your memoir emotional. Leaving your readers laughing hysterically, mouths open in awe, or crying tears is actually the best strategy to make your memoir unforgettable. Take them into the journey in which they would like to discover other details of your story. For instance, you want to tell about the moment when you have learned that your husband had an affair. What did you feel at that moment? Sadness? Devastation? Anger? You should not tell that exactly but should give your readers a hint that would help them understand your feelings. For example, you may write: “It was a bright Friday morning when I learned that my husband was cheating on me. He forgot our vows and spent the money we collected on our house to a young lady and her wishes. I suddenly remembered all those evenings he had to work, as well as all his business trips when I was left alone along with my dreams and plans. It is funny how a short message can ruin eight years of happy family life that appeared nothing more than just a soap bubble.”
- Follow an outline. Although memoir writing is a creative process, you need to follow a certain structure that will help you keep all your ideas organized in the right way. We highly recommend you to write an outline that will include the points that you will discuss in your introduction, main body, and a conclusion.
- Edit your paper. Finally, your memoir should be absolutely free from grammatical and spelling flaws because they will distract your reader from focusing on your content.
We do hope that our suggestions helped you understand how to write a memoir paper of premium quality.
Memoir vs. Autobiography
So now when you know how to write a memoir, it`s time to understand what is a memoir and what is an autobiography? Whereas many people often confuse these documents, we would like to draw your attention to their characteristic features:
- A memoir usually focuses on one or a series of stories. Unlike an autobiography, it is not all-encompassing. However, this event should be very important for a person`s life. Very often, in a memoir, there is a moral that should teach the reader helping them draw the right conclusions.
- An autobiography covers the whole life of the individual starting at birth. Unlike memoirs, autobiographies usually include diverse themes, as well as lessons learned. Besides, autobiographies are often written by famous people explaining their way to success.