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Have you ever succumbed to this memoir shortcut?

“I just added a little bit of fiction to move the story along,” you say, to explain a memoir shortcut you have just taken, joining the ranks of such pseudo memoirist as James Frey in A Million Pieces?

Or, perhaps the ranks of Frank McCourt who fictionalized long dialogs in Angela’s Ashes. (No one remembers as much dialog as he tries to tell us he does years later from when he was six.)

Or perhaps you did just a bit of fictionalizing like making up a reason your mother did a certain thing. You didn’t know why and so you made something up as a memoir shortcut.

Innocent enough isn’t it to make a few parts up? Or, is it called “Dodging the challenge of writing an honest book.”

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Writing an honest memoir is like playing tennis with the net up. Autobiographical fiction (often passed on as memoir) is like playing with the net down.

There is a clear difference—a chasm really—between the choice of writing a memoir that is as much as possible truthful and writing a memoir that alters the truth for the convenience of the story or the writer’s ego (autobiographical fiction). While one may chose to write one or the other, one does not have a choice to call one by the name of the other. There is an implicit contract between the memoir writer and the memoir reader that what is written down is a fact, the truth—to the best of the writer’s ability and memory. The writer owes it to the reader to be unambiguous.

Writing about your life as fiction can be fine—it is a choice after all, but you owe it to the reader to present it as fiction and not as memoir. Memoir shortcuts can tanks your story.

See my expanded thoughts at 4 Proven Ways Fiction Use Sinks your Memoir, another of my quality videos on You Tube.

To read about more memoir writing and autobiographical fiction on The Memoir Network site, click here.

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