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Archive | Details in a Memoir

In this category on the use of details in a memoir, you have access to a number of insightful posts that will bring meaning to the quotes that follow—especially as they apply to writing memoir.

“No ideas but in things.”

— William Carlos Williams

“The devil is in the details.”

— a common saying

Without details in a memoir, your story is vague, and the reader can hardly follow your train of thought. With details, your reader is right on top of the story and understands where you are both coming from and going to.

Details are a cornerstone of another maxim of writing: show and don’t tell. They help to establish the credibility of the text.

“Hey, don’t take my word for it. Go look at the details!”

The lack of details in a memoir leads to confusion.

A common difficulty writers encounter is to confuse what they mean to convey—imply—with what the reader infers from the narrative. This often stems from the lack of use of detail. When you write “We were poor,” you are using a value word that has clear meaning for you but not for the reader who brings his/her own definition of this vague word. Does “poor” imply that you had inadequate food or that you had to have a job after high-school classes were ended for the day or do you mean to tell the reader that your family did not have a live-in maid (as on friend of mine was told—seriously!)

Had the writer used details rather than a vague word like “poor,” there would have been a correspondence between what the writer meant and what the reader understood.

In conclusion

Below are insightful posts that will bring understanding of how details enhance your writing.

successful memoir interview

8 Tips: How to Have a Successful Memoir Interview

A successful memoir interview will add depth to your memoir. While you know much about your story, it is always beneficial to gather information from other sources to fill in the gaps. These sources can be formal research on the net or in a library or it can be reviewing letters and journals or talking […]

pillars of a powerful memoir

Three Pillars of a Powerful Memoir

There is power in writing your story. Your memoir can transform you as it leads to understanding the energy in your life and ultimately making that energy work for you. The three pillars of a powerful memoir I want to talk about are the old stand-bys of character, action, and setting. A story is not […]

writing precise words

Sweetheart, Are You Using Precise Words for Your Memoir?

The clearer you are in your choice of precise words, the easier it will be for your reader to understand your writing. The reader will be able to respond to you as you wish the reader to respond—instead of looking around while you are pleading “sweetheart, sweetheart.”

best interview practices

Best Interview Practices for Writing a Memoir

Can you assume you can depend on your memory when you write your lifestories? The problem with this assumption is that memory isn’t always as reliable as you may want it to be! What are the best interview practices to find out if your memory is spot on?