I emphatically don’t agree that memoir is fiction. Although a memoir invariably uses fiction techniques—and we will look at one memoir in this post, it must be an as-much-as-possible true accounting of an experience. I must confess to not seeing a problem with the idea of memoir versus fiction. Memoir IS NOT fiction!
A strength of fiction is its ability—when it is done right—to place us in the story, to enable us to get out of our “present” and enter into the time of the story. The memoir writer has to aim for the same level of involvement. In that sense, there is again no conflict of memoir versus fiction.
Develop Vivid Characters
- Are the characters your memoir going to bore—rather than impress—your readers?
- Are you at a loss—“Help! What can I do!”—about how to make the people in your memoir more interesting?
- Are you embarrassed by the “stick” characters you have presented? “She really was a complex person, but I don’t know how to show her that way.”
In many cases, this involves removing the narrator from our field of attention.
An easy mistake to correct
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