How to learn to write better memoir
To create a successful workshop business of helping people to write their memoir, you must become adept with the memoir genre itself. You must learn to write better memoir yourself. Being a good fiction writer or a poet or an essayist is not enough. You must have read many memoirs and have written in the genre. Your clients will rightfully expect no less from you than you be expert at both memoir writing and the theory behind memoir writing. You cannot bypass learning to write better memoir.
1. If you have not done so yet, immerse yourself in serious program of memoir reading. Read memoirs of famous people. These are the memoirs your clients will have read, and they will ask you about these books. Read memoirs of not-so-famous people. Your clients will not be famous people, and it is important that you be aware of how good some of these books can be. These are models for the books your clients will write. Use them to teach how to write better memoir.
Develop Vivid Characters
- Are the characters your memoir going to bore—rather than impress—your readers?
- Are you at a loss—“Help! What can I do!”—about how to make the people in your memoir more interesting?
- Are you embarrassed by the “stick” characters you have presented? “She really was a complex person, but I don’t know how to show her that way.”
2. As you read, practice reading as a writer. How does the author lead into the story? How is the character developed? Is the pacing appropriate? Has the plot been reinforced with any foreshadowing or suspense? (It’s as if you were a detective trying to solve a mystery.) Whenever you read something you like, ask yourself how the author achieved that effect.
3. Read about memoir writing. While you will develop your own takes on such topics as narrative, point of view, theme, etc., you can jumpstart your knowledge by reading what others have had to write about these elements. Just as different professions have their vocabulary that help people to talk to each other within the field, so too with memoir professionals and their clients. You can learn from reading about how to write better memoir.
4. Write your memoirs—the long and the short of your lifestory. It is always stunning to learn that someone who is launching a memoir-writing company has not him/herself written a memoir and is not adept. Before or in the early stages of your memoir business start up, it is to your advantage to write a memoir. Even a piece so short as 50 to 75 pages will teach you much about how to write a better memoir and will be a useful credential for you. Generally speaking, your clients will not care whether or not your work was published by a commercial press as most of them are not seeking commercial publication. Short pieces can be posted on your website as samples of your writing style.
Your clients will expect no less from you than you be good at the practice and theory of the genre of memoir writing. Your skills and experience will allow you to flourish as a teacher and mentor. Being adept in your genre is integral to the success of your business.
Good luck as you write better memoir.
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