Top Menu

Archive | Technique

Memoir writing techniques refer to the “tools” of writing. Tools are instruments people use to make or facilitate fashioning something. Often, we cannot make what we want to make without the proper tools. So tools are not only helpful, they are often necessary to our success.

If you were a carpenter, you would use hammers and saws and levels, etc, to create solid, beautiful results. The carpenter who uses stones and tree branches and direct kicks with his feet, however, is not likely to  produce a solid, beautiful result. (Not that I would know from personal experience!)

A range of tools is a true with writing. There are “tools” which we call memoir-writing techniques. If you use them, will help you to write a more elegant, more interesting and more impactful memoir. Other tools—or lack of them—will produce crude, uninteresting pieces of writing.

How to Use this Category

This section in memoir writing techniques is our most visited category on the Memoir Writer’s Blog. Rightfully so as it contains a  cornucopia of suggestions for better writing—or should I say “tools” for better writing.

If you have a specific inquire—for instance, “which point of view should I write my mothers memoir in?”—go directly to that subcategory in the right hand menu of “Blog Categories” under under “Techniques.” In most subcategories, you will plenty of insight to help you with your issue. (Beyond this, you ought to consider coaching. Coaching has helped many writers break through impasses—of technique, motivation, insight.)

There are other visitors who may refer to read through the different titles and select to learn about whatever memoir-writing techniques interests them at the time. Consider this category as a university-level reading list for you to inform yourself on the possibilities of memoir writing.

Below are articles which present many different memoir writing techniques. This list does not, by any means, exhaust the possibilities of techniques. Learn to use these and other tools of writing.

One more thing…

One article in this category, How to write a memoir: our 21 Best Memoir-Writing Tips to get you writing your memoir—quickly and well—and getting it into the hands of your public, ought to be bookmarked for continuing reference. It’s that good.

create vivid characters

What everyone ought to do to create vivid characters

Five easy, proven tips for adding feelings to a memoir and creating vivid characters

As a memoirist, do you accept that your family, your friends and your acquaintances are characters in your story? This is a first step in creating vivid characters.

“But, I’m writing about my mother, not about a character,” you say.

Yes, you are writing about your mother and she is a character in your story. If you can’t incorporate that notion into your approach to writing, your memoir will not soar and you wil not create vivid characters—not of your mother or of anyone else.

Without the interactions of and with other people, our lives and memoirs risk becoming dull. Although ideas are pivotal for many individuals, relationships are even more commanding.

We are intrigued with who other people are and how they function. “Who’s that? What are they doing? Where did they come from?” These are questions we want answered.

[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.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

best memoir-writing tips

How to write a memoir: our 21 Best Memoir-Writing Tips to get you writing your memoir—quickly and well—and getting it into the hands of your public.

Note from the editor: This post is a memoir-writing course. I suggest that you glance through the whole of it, and pick those best memoir-writing tips that you most need to read at this time. Later, bit by bit, you will read the rest.

Click on the links that interest you and study the posts where you land. The links in even just a few of the tips below will uncover articles that pertain to the topic(s).

Following these best memoir-writing tips, your knowledge of memoir writing will grow more certain, and you will write with more confidence. One day, sooner than you think possible, your memoir will be published and in hand.

–––

It’s later than you think. Don’t put off writing your memoir any longer.

Our 21 in-depth, best memoir-writing tips below will help you to start memoir writing today. 

You’ll find these guides will see you through the process of how to write a memoir—an interesting and meaningful memoir—more easily and quickly than you may now think possible.

One day soon, you will have written your book.

The Memoir Network’s 21 Top Best Memoir-Writing Tips to get you to memoir success.

1. What is a memoir? Hint: it’s not an autobiography!

Is the difference important to the memoir writer? Somewhat! Knowing what you are writing will orient you from the start! It can be discouraging to realize that you have been headed in the wrong direction when you could have saved yourself time and energy by understanding the difference between memoir and autobiography as you launched yourself. While it’s not huge, but it can be significant.

An autobiography is about a whole life: from birth to the present. A memoir is a part of your life that is characterized by a theme. It might be about the first years of your marriage during which you realized what an immature and selfish person you were and earned to be a giving souse. This may interest many people as it is a struggle many are waging.

The fact is that, while it is totally possible to write a memoir that will interest the public and draw an audience to you, the same is not true of an autobiography. If you are famous: possibly. If you are not, it is not likely that people will be interested in what grade school you went to and how much your grandmother loved you.

(This statement about autobiography is not applicable if you are writing for a family audience. Your children and grandchildren will definitely be interested in an autobiography.)

[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.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

how to be a better storyteller

How to be a Better Storyteller

In this YouTube video on how to be a better storyteller, I share with you how you can learn to make effective use of a variety of technical skills to shape successful lifestories.

memoir theme

Three Ways an Inauthentic Memoir Theme Will Trip You Up

As you articulate your memoir theme, ask yourself if this memoir theme is really yours—does it reflect your present understanding of your story and of life itself? Or is it a residue of the accepted “wisdom” of someone else: a parent, another adult figure, society at large?

1) A theme that is authentically yours makes for better writing.

It comes from your center of experience. Writers who recognize, acknowledge, and explore their authentic memoir themes in their writing are more apt to present us with clear, to-the-point stories than those who repeat inherited memoir themes or who think they can ignore the issue of theme.

Early in our lives, you and I were naturally and rightfully the recipients of someone else’s—a parent’s or grandparent’s—understanding and interpretation of life. As long as these interpretations correspond to our own adult views, we can write easily within their context. What often happens, however, is that we continue to espouse a point of view inherited from another without realizing that it has ceased to correspond to our own. When challenged, we will say “Well, I guess I really don’t believe that anymore. Isn’t it something how I wrote (or said) that!”

[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.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

too much backstory

Too Much Backstory–Are you making memoir writing more difficult than necessary?

How much backstory is too much? Today we will discuss how to avoid too much backstory in your memoir.

I hope this is not you…

You are memoir writing about a time when you—alas—got fired from your job. As you write about this, you throw in your college studies, how much you loved your major and how eager you were for the workplace. Then you go on to write about the catty politics of the office from which you got fired. You even throw in a vignette about your boss’s spouse who came onto you and another snippet about the wasteful (and tasteless) redecorating your boss commissioned. For good measure, you describe the company’s history and…

STOP!!!

[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.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

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. ]

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.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

personal memoir

Seven Reasons for Writing a More Personal Memoir

You want to write your memoir, but you resist getting too personal, going in too deep. In short, writing a more personal memoir.

Your guarded secret that you wanted to have your own business one day or your hope that your father would apologize eventually for his denigration of you—this has happened and it has had a great impact on you. Your even deeper secrets—the sexual orientation that you dared not reveal or your negative self-concept—surely this can’t be the subject of a memoir. How would you live this down? Isn’t it better to stick with the facts and dates? And aren’t these inner realities too personal to impose on others?

1) The more personal your memoir the more universal it is.

[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.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

dramatic story

Dramatic story development, rather than dramatic events, adds up to an interesting memoir

People will sometimes suppose that only big drama can make an interesting memoir. Of course, there are many readers who require constant titillation if they are to remain reading. Perhaps they are not the readers you should be seeking for your memoir. Nonetheless, nearly all readers require some attention to “interesting.”  

No, I do not believe that it is the scope of the drama of your memoir that is the crucial element to creating interest. Some would-be memoir-writers get discouraged by the ordinariness of their lives. Yet, I have found that almost everyone I have had a serious conversation with about memoir writing had enough happen in their lives to fashion an interesting memoir.  

An interesting memoir: drama vs. dramatic story development?

Much more important than the inherent drama of an action is the dramatic development of your story.

[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.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

time for writing

Your writing is your work–Make time for writing

To make time for writing, you have to be serious about the principle that your writing is your work. You must act on it and take it as seriously as your paying job. You honor your writing schedule!

You do not show up at your work when you feel like it

If you are working as a nurse or a therapist or a business office administrator or what not, you do not show up at your work when you feel like it or when you are inspired. You have certain hours whether you work full-time or part-time during which you are expected to show up at the job. The same is true of your writing. You show up for your writing schedule.

If you write when you “get to it,” when you “feel like it,” when inspiration moves you, you will likely do little writing and almost certainly not complete a book of memoirs. If you were being paid for this memoir “job,” your boss would fire you. [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.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

memoir writer's blog archives

Benefits of Reading the Memoir Writer’s Blog Archives

Two new articles each week

What are the benefits of reading the Memoir Writer’s Blog archives? Twice a week, I post a new article on the Memoir Writer’s Blog. It then appears in the Memoir Writing Blog Archives. I write about a variety of topics, and most of them are understandably not in sequence with what I have written just days before—or even the previous week.

I write in the Memoir Writer’s Blog as the fancy takes me. Most readers want to learn in a just-in-time manner.  What I write today may very well be the very topic you need to keep going even if you had not known that before reading the post on The Memoir Writer’s Blog. That’s why you need to keep checking the memoir writer’s blog archives.

What writing topics are in the archives?

[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.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

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.