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Everyone should work on improving your writing. Find tips and theories about improving your craft.

writing about non-events

Writing about Non-Events: They Belong in Your Memoir Writing

Non-events belong in memoir writing. I witnessed one recently while having coffee in a restaurant. A man and a 14- or 15-year-old boy whom I took to be his son walked in together and ordered. At first they were both silent, and then the boy began to speak. He spoke quite a bit. I couldn’t […]

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

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writing process steps

Writing Process Steps–Linger With Your Story

One of the writing process steps is to linger with your story. Many, and perhaps most, people write too fast. I don’t mean that they end up with a text characterized by sloppy grammar, spelling problems and chronology issues—although that may be the case, of course.

No, what I mean is that they push through the process of writing their stories much too quickly. They end up with only a part of the story they could have written had they lingered. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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write memoir

How Is Learning to Write Memoir Like Learning to Swim?

When learning to write memoir, it can feel awkward and uncomfortable as you learn the process, just like learning to swim. We often see people who are not comfortable swimming flail about in the water, their heads reaching up high, desperately, to catch a breath of air. This awkward gesture soon tires them. Try as they might there is not enough air for them as they constrict their ribs, twist their heads, contort their jaws. Soon enough, considering that they had set out to enjoy the water, these people quit and return to the shore. Swimming is over for the day. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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time sequencing and flashbacks

Before Sending a Manuscript To An Editor Part 3–Time Sequencing and Flashbacks

Note from the Editor: This third installment of Before Sending a Manuscript to an Editor series offers basic editing tips around time sequencing and flashbacks. For Part 1: Self-Editing Techniques Click here. For Part 2: Use of Time  Click here.

A writer can effect these tips to bring a manuscript to a higher level of finish before sending the piece off to a professional editor. In this section, I write about use of time: specifically, cause and effect time sequencing and flashbacks. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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self-editing techniques

Before Sending a Manuscript To An Editor / Part 1–Self-Editing Techniques

Note from the Editor: This first installment of Before Sending a Manuscript to an Editor series offers basic editing tips around self-editing techniques. For Part 2 Use of Time Click here.  For Part 3 Time Sequencing and Flashbacks Click here

Self-Editing Techniques and Tips

I have been a memoir and fiction editor since 1990. In that time, I have worked with hundreds of manuscripts.

Some have come to me requiring only slight tweaking. The texts are nearly ready for publication. The authors have created an interesting and well-crafted piece of writing. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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moving your memoir plot with action

Four Tips For Moving Your Memoir Plot With Action

Action drives your story and keeps your readers interested. Writing with effective action is the key to creating lifestories that people want to read. Here are four tips for moving your memoir plot with action. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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writing a memoir

Core Focus for Writing a Memoir

Is your family one of the many whose history is at risk for getting lost to future generations because no one has written it down? Here is a clear focus for writign a memoir Writing your lifestories—even just a few—is a great way to memorialize your family and to keep the experience of your life—and […]

writing a first draft

You Can’t Write Without a First Draft

Give yourself permission to write a rough first draft. Write pages and pages in which you describe the who, the what, the where and the when of the story. Later, as you rework the piece, the why will be written in.

If you are one of those memoir writers who is not otherwise a writer and who will perhaps never write anything else, know that you need to be kind to yourself. In the Turning Memories Into Memoirs workshops, I am often surprised—and dismayed—at how demanding writers are on themselves at an early stage of the process. There are even times when a writer will not turn in a piece of writing because it was not “good enough”—and that in spite of my having told the group that the writing they would submit would still be in its first draft stage.

Think of the first draft of writing as “fixing” the story in the same way that in days when photographs were fixed by chemicals that stage was important if the image was not to be lost. Your first draft is the stage when you “fix” your story, keep it from being lost rather than make it into a masterpiece.

Don’t reward yourself for being a perfectionist!

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