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Author Archive | Denis Ledoux

write a memoir

Write a memoir: practical how-to information to ace it.

Over the years, I have both worked with people to help them write a memoir and have heard from people who have done the work of writing theirs.

Often these people had never written anything before—not memoir, not fiction, not creative non-fiction. They did not think of themselves as writers. One day these people—as you are now doing—decided it was time to write a memoir. They set about to compose a lasting record of their personal and family stories in writing. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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place photos in your memoir book

Photos in Your Memoir Book Layout

Where you place photos in your memoir book layout is important.

While it may seem obvious, it bears repeating that where you place photos in your memoir book layout is important.

It will influence how readers appreciate your story. The only way I can grasp that makes sense is to place photos chronologically within the text. Why?

A bit of book-writing talk

There is in reading and writing a phenomenon called “suspension of disbelief.” If I as the reader am constantly saying “This is only a book. This isn’t really happening as I read,” then it is impossible for that reader to get “lost in the story.”

On the other hand, if the reader agrees not to challenge the story—to make as if the story is actually happening as s/he is reading—then there is a good chance the reader will enter the story and experience it as if it were unfolding before his/her eyes.

Now the reader is only one partner of the agreement. The other partner is the writer.  The writer MUST NOT do anything that forces the reader to suspend disbelief.

A famous gaffe [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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share your writing

Dare to Share Your Writing

A critical steps to take as a developing writer is to share your writing with others. Those others might be writers, they might be friends, or they might be family members.

Sometimes you make your writing public by having an in-person audience or a virtual audience. Sometimes your first audience comes in the form of blog readers.

This post is geared to the novice writer and may not apply to a more experienced memoirist.

To Share Is To Grow

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Point of View in a Memoir

The Wrong Point of View in a Memoir Can Throw the Story

In 1996 and 1997, I composed about 200 pages of a memoir of my high school years and then it wasn’t going anywhere more than where it had been—mired in facts and details with no spirit. What I didn’t know was it had a wrong point of view problem

I merely stored it in various computers for years.

In the fall of 2013, I completed my mother’s memoir (We Were Not Spoiled). Because I was looking for a writing project I might devote myself to next, I picked up the high-school memoir again.

(Lest you think that I went to a high school like yours, let me assure you that I did not. I attended a Catholic high-school seminary. No, I’m not writing about sexual shenanigans—there was none of that whatsoever. I am writing about my life there between 1960 and 1964 and how it shaped me. This theme of identity is usual stuff for a memoir, but the setting is exotic in many ways and not at all usual. Almost none of you who are reading this have “been there”—trust me.)

Suddenly, after more than a decade and a half, the memoir spoke to me again!

“Write me! Write me!” it shouted. The text seemed “alive” again. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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publishing independently

My first publication story: publishing independently

Let me share the independent publication story of my first book, What Became of Them. It is a collection of short stories that I had written over a number of years in the 1980s. In 1987, I decided it was time to send the collection out into the world, but I was not ready yet to do publishing independently.I learn to support myself in the creative life.

Taking stock of myself, I knew I had no need to be approved by someone, to have my writing found to be worthy.  I know many writers want to have a “real book,” and by this, they probably mean they want their book to be canonized by someone—the larger the reputation and the more famous, the better.

This sort of approval was not important to me. I was looking for a way to reach my audience which I  knew both existed and would want my book.

I also wanted to earn some income from my writing. I understood that my income would come both from sales of the book and from speaking and teaching from the podium my book would allow me to step up on.

Where to send my manuscript?

I gleaned names and addresses I researched in the library and bookstore. After selecting a few of the more promising—they championed topics which I thought would attract my audience and encompassed a territory where my audience lived.

I sent the book out—and then I waited and waited.

I totally understood how a book has to fit into a publisher’s catalog. (A fruit distributor doesn’t, after all, take on a chicken farmer as a client!) A new book must support the company’s mission and complement books that have already been successful.

In addition, a book must promise to earn the company some income (preferably a large one) from its audience.

A losing proposition

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What motivates me to write

What Motivates Me to Write?

The simplest answer to what motivates me to write is that I’ve always loved to write, and lacking the creativity to write fiction or the tenacity to research subjects for non-fiction, I write about what I know, my life. I love memoir.

If I look beyond my lack of creativity, I see writing memoir feeds a certain voyeurism.  I’ve always been fascinated by letters and the glimpse they provide into other people’s lives. I’ve never been able to resist an epistolary book, fiction or non-, and I’ve come to realize that many of the memoir pieces I’ve written are basically letters to myself, or to the family that comes after me.  I love reading letters, so I write them. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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last chapter of a memoir

How to write a last chapter of a memoir

“How do I write the last chapter of a memoir?” coaching and editing clients will sometimes ask me. It is a good question because the last chapter of a memoir is your final shot at affirming your theme and at creating a satisfying ending to the story the reader has been engaged in for perhaps […]

memoir writing tips

Five Memoir Writing Tips Nancy Pelosi Ought to Know Before She Pens A Memoir

When Nancy Pelosi sits down to write her memoirs what ought she to do to make the writing interesting? Hint: fame and power in themselves are not enough to intrigue a reader. Here are five memoir writing tips to know.

Writing her memories of her years in Washington will be challenging to Nancy Pelosi but not as hard as some people think. If she is willing to follow the five simple steps I will outline below, she can succeed at writing an interesting and meaningful autobiography. (More and more people—in fact, many who at first think they couldn’t—are succeeding at exploring and honoring their pasts in this way.)

These five memoir writing tips to know are among the most powerful—and easiest—to implement in personal and family history writing.

Good luck—to Nancy Pelosi and to you!

1) Make a Memory List.

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The Memoir Network Evolved

How The Memoir Network Evolved

The Memoir Network evolved with thought. Its services—which are necessary for the success of writers and of the Memoir Network—grew regularly over a decade.