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Is It a Memoir or Autobiographical Fiction ?

What Makes It Memoir or Autobiographical Fiction?

I read a memoir that did well here in Maine (it’s by an excellent Maine writer)—I can’t vouch for its reach in the rest of the country. I’m left wondering whether the author was writing memoir or autobiographical fiction.

It’s an interesting book, very well-written in terms of style and organization, but my nagging doubt is that it is autobiographical fiction and not memoir. I will choose to leave the book nameless as my intent is not to be negative about it but only to use it to elucidate a point about memoir writing which I think is important to keep in mind as we write.

I have frequently spoken about using fiction techniques to make a memoir more interesting. Dialog, for instance, can be marvelous. The trick, as I have offered frequently, is to use only a few words in direct dialog (“I won’t,” she said) and then put the rest in indirect dialog (She said that was because blah, blah, blah…)

Fiction Techniques in a Memoir

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