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November 8 Activity: the Backstory of your Memoir

November 8: What is the Backstory of your Memoir?


Each of our memoirs is likely to have stories full of details. We spend much time elaborating the story as we remember it—and this is usually good, but we often slip into telling too much backstory. When I work with coaching clients, I might ask them to tell the story of their relationship breakup, for instance, without going into the back story of your memoir. “We don’t need to know in this breakup story how you met. Just tell us about the breakup.”
Today, however, you will spend time to explore the backstory of an important event in your life—the equivalent of “how you met.” A back story is the story behind the story, the antecedent.

Action Step

1. You can do explore the backstory of your memoir alone or with someone. (If you are alone, you can simulate a “someone” by speaking the story out loud as if someone were there instead of just saying it in your head.)

2. Narrate to someone the back story of an experience that occurred during the time of your memoir. If you choose to talk about your relationship breakup, this is the time to tell how you met. (A backstory can be inserted as a flashback or as a story in an earlier chapter.)

3. After telling the backstory of your memoir vignette, ask yourself and your listener(s) the following:

·      What more would you/they have liked to know?
·      What didn’t “ring true” for you/them?
·      What questions remained unanswered?

4. Write the vignette as soon as possible after this session.

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