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.”
In our writing craft, we memoirists use words as one of our primary tools. It stands that being able to handle words carefully, precisely and elegantly is necessary if we are to express ourselves clearly and pleasurably (for both ourselves and our readers). We must hone our word skills.
In this section, the Memoir Writer’s Blog offers suggestions about how we can handle words well.
Word usage for the memoir writer
Every once in a while, I send you a few of my verbal pet peeves. Here are a few other unfortunate phrases that have come my way recently. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
Letting words mean what they mean…
In a previous post, I wrote about using words more precisely than we often do. Specifically, I pointed out redundant usages.
Today I would like to rant about a few other phrases that have come my way recently. I call them word re-inforcers. They are like redundant words but are focused on making words mean the same thing but more acutely.
Cliches and Stereotypes
Don’t devalue your characters by using cliches and stereotypes. This will undermine the unique and personal feel of your memoir. Cliches and stereotypes place people in categories. As short-hand ways of writing and speaking, they reflect ready-made thoughts and adversely affect the ways we relate to our families and friends as unique individuals.
- “She was a mother-hen; You know how mothers are!”
- “My father had a heart of gold.”
- “Those were beautiful days when we were happy.”
Is choosing the right word really important in writing a memoir?
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” —Mark Twain
Lightning dazzles the eye. The sky is split open. Sometimes it makes our hair stand on end. A lightning bug, on the other hand, is a small, friendly flicker in our backyards, not enough light to illuminate even the smallest corner. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
Memoir writers sometimes ask, “Is writing with good grammar important?”
Yes and no. To anyone beginning to write lifestories, I would caution, “Get your story down on paper and don’t worry about “good grammar”—at least, not at first.” [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
The difference between a memoir and an autobiography can be rather minimal—or they can be fairly large. “So what is the difference between a memoir and an autobiography?” you may persist in asking as so many people do. Practically speaking, for most people, there is no difference. In common speech, the terms are interchangeable. But […]
Redundant word usage is rampant!
As a writer, I am chagrined when words get misused and one particular miscreant is redundant word usage.
Here are examples:
1. “As I re-listened to these interviews again…”
2. “That just my personal opinion!”
3. “Repeat again…”
4. “As a child, I was raised by parents who…”
5. “a personal friend”
These are phrases and sentences that I read or heard today (in the space of one hour!) [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
You can avoid cliches and stereotypes.
If you do not avoid cliches and stereotypes, you will undermine the unique and personal feel of your memoir. Cliches and stereotypes place people in often erroneous and certainly indefensible categories. As short-hand ways of writing and speaking, they reflect ready-made thoughts and adversely affect the ways we relate to our families and friends as unique individuals and how we write about them.
“She was a mother-hen–you know how mothers are!”
“My father had a heart of gold.”
We thought you might enjoy brushing up on your grammar. This list has been making its way around the internet and we thought it was enough of a new twist on grammar that it would make your high school English teacher’s hair stand on end. Verbs has to agree with their subjects. Prepositions are not […]