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“Is editing my memoir so important,” you ask. “I’ve already shown it to my sister-in-law who teacher English at the high school.

You have worked long and hard to write your memoir. You are ready to turn the computer off and receive the accolades you feel you deserve!

Wouldn’t it be great to have “There I’ve gotten it all out and that’s that with my memoir” be the same as “The story is ready to affect the reader”?

At some level, you are ready to move on, but—wait!: is your memoir ready for its audience? Is what you have actually a penultimate draft rather than a ready-to-be-published manuscript? It may even be a very good draft but it’s probably not the finished manuscript you are hoping it is.

When’s a good time for editing my memoir?

Your sister in-law who teaches English at the high school is probably an excellent proofreader, but unless she has written a long manuscript herself, her expertise is in deconstructing a text and not in constructing one. In fact, she probably has very little competence in how to write a longer piece.

Every writer ought to engage an editor who is also a writer before moving a manuscript on to the public. When you think your writing is completed, it probably isn’t. The fact is, you probably need memoir editing.

I had never received memoir editing the way you folks at The Memoir Network do it. When my editor, Chris, pointed out how my character’s dialog in the middle of the book contradicted what I had her say at the beginning, I knew I had a serious developmental reader who was going to help me shape my story. You folks take editing as seriously as I take telling my story. It’s been a good fit.

Sandra Swain

An editor will help you to identify and make the decisions you must make to bring the story, its theme and its promise, out in the open for all to appreciate. An editor will assess your pacing and shaping and help you tighten both. An editor will help you articulate your story by steering you to develop metaphors and images to approach your message from a different angle.

The guidance in the posts below will help you with these tasks. After you’ve read the posts, come over to our editing services pages and check out how The Memoir Network can help you even more to generate the best manuscript you are capable of.

Editing your memoir is not to be ignored or shortchanged. You have already worked too hard not to bring your best book forward.

To answer your question “Is editing my memoir important?” I have to answer:”Absolutely!”

story collecting party

November 23: Listening to Your Memoir Yields Dividends

Listening to your memoir yields dividends. As writers, we have often experienced writing what we deem to be deathless prose. Later, perhaps a week or a month later, when we pick up our own manuscript again, we realize that our deathless prose is perhaps closer to deadly prose. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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support for writing your memoir

What would support for writing your memoir book look like for you?

While some people succeed at writing an interesting and meaningful memoir on their own, the fact is many people need both more technical expertise than they now have and more emotional support for the long effort they are undertaking. Many find the task of writing a memoir—however urgent and compelling—to be somewhat daunting and, if […]

Difference between proofreading and editing

The Difference Between Proofreading and Editing

After having written a good portion of their memoir, writers will sometimes begin to wonder if it is time to hire a writing professional to work with them to get the manuscript ready to go out into the world. At this stage, they may ask, “What’s the difference between proofreading and editing? And, how do I know which one I need?”

What Is Proofreading?

Proofreading is the more technical, nutsy-boltsy end of editing. Someone who is an editor will often also undertake to proofread a manuscript. Proofreading is concerned with mechanics:  spelling, punctuation, noun/verb agreement, other grammar problems, consistency (abbreviations, digits vs. numbers that are spelled out as words, etc.), obvious breaks from styling (inconsistencies in fonts, line spacing, spacing between words, and margins), and factual errors (dates, place names, historical facts).

Obviously, proofreading requires a solid foundation in grammar, vocabulary, and general knowledge. It requires an eye for detail. Proofreaders refer often to the following in hard copy or on the internet: a dictionary, an atlas, and an encyclopedia.

What Exactly Is the Difference Between Proofreading and Editing ?

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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what is developmental editing

What Is Developmental Editing and Why You Need It for Your Self-Published Memoir

What is developmental editing and do you need it? If the big New York publishing houses NEVER publish a manuscript without extensive editing, why would you as a self-publisher?

A professional memoir editor can quickly and effectively help you tweak your lifestory so that you get to say more clearly and dynamically what you have been trying to say. You can’t write your best memoir without developmental editing—it’s game-changing.

Editors come in many stripes: some are copy editors, others are content editors while still another kind is a developmental editor.

In this post, I want to focus on developmental editing and how it will help you write a memoir you can be proud to send into the world.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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Using Precise Language

More on Using Precise Language

Many memoir writers are under the impression that you need to have an extensive vocabulary to write. An extensive vocabulary can only help you–if by “extensive” you mean many precise words—not just “big” ones. More important is using precise language.

Precise words are specific

Precise words are specific and not vague and ineffective like nice, awful, big, OK. “She was nice” is vague. “She understands different points of view” is specific.

“He was awfully big” is vague. You might write instead: “My father measured six foot five and weighed 275 pounds.” Now that is using precise words! [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

Many memoir writers are under the impression that you need to have an extensive vocabulary to write. An extensive vocabulary can only help you–if by “extensive” you mean many precise words—not just “big” ones. More important is using precise language.

Precise words are specific

Precise words are specific and not vague and ineffective like nice, awful, big, OK. “She was nice” is vague. “She understands different points of view” is specific.

“He was awfully big” is vague. You might write instead: “My father measured six foot five and weighed 275 pounds.” Now that is using precise words! [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

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how to write vividly

How to write vividly–Avoiding vagueness in writing

If you want to learn how to write vividly, use the following tips for avoiding vagueness in writing your memoir.

When a manuscript slips into a vagueness, the reader reads and rereads and does not quite “get it.”

“What’s the author trying to say here?” we ask ourselves. “What am I missing?”

Here are a few of my ideas as to why this may happen.

1. The author is not sure herself what she is trying to say. She has not lingered with this part of the story to extract from it the essence of her meaning. Once she has meaning, finding prose that might do justice to the expression of her feeling becomes easier.

Solution if this is you: journal around the story, look at your photos, take a walk to ruminate about the events you have written about, ask yourself, “What exactly am I trying to convey here? What do I really mean to say?”

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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what a top editor does for you

Help to Write My Memoir: Here’s What a Top Editor Does for You

What a Top Editor Does For You

People often ask, “What sort of book editing input does a client receive from her/his Memoir Network editor?”

The answer, of course, varies according to the client. No two receive the same response. We always individualize.

You persist in asking, “Yes, yes, but what sort of manuscript input can I expect from a memoir editor that I begin to work with?”

“Ok, I get it—you want a sample communication.”

Here is one that went out to a new client who had sent us a manuscript and wanted us to read it through and make overall recommendations. This is an actual letter so, to protect the client, we have taken out all references that might point to the client and identify him or her or his or her story. We’ll show you the same respect.

What a top editor does for you is push you

Dear Editing Client,

I have read through about half the text you sent. So many good things to say about the memoir manuscript: [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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Memoir Editing

A Memoir Coach or A Memoir Editor Gets You A Finished Memoir

We all wear many hats as we go through our days. In my case, I am a writer, a memoirist, a teacher, a memoir coach, a memoir editor, a co-author, a book publisher, and finally, a small business person. I wear those hats with pride and, I hope, some accomplishment.

Beyond these, I wear other hats as all of you do also. One is that of an athlete of sorts: there has been swimming, jogging, and weight lifting.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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memoir editing process

How Memoir Editing Works

When I begin the memoir editing process with clients, I tell them that a proper editing requires three “read-throughs.” It is impossible to give a manuscript all the attention it deserves in one reading.

That’s simply how memoir editing works when done properly

Reading a manuscript without doing any specific editing and forming only a general impression has always seemed a good idea in theory, but I have not found a way to do so that is economical. I have therefore evolved this concept of read-throughs as a memoir editing technique. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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A gift for you...
...because you need to get your memoir written. This little book will focus you to complete your memoir.
  • Your memoir deserves to be written. We help people get their story down—right!
  • Writing a memoir or want to improve one you're working on? Download Memoir Writing 101: How to Craft a Compelling Memoir or Lifestory / 10 Steps and a Bonus.
  • Memoir Writing 101 comes with The Lifewriter's Guides, a biweekly "workshop in an email.".
  • If you are already a member of The Memoir Network, this e-book and others are available to you free in Member Resources.