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Memoir Versus Fiction, or Is Memoir Fiction?

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.

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In many cases, this involves removing the narrator from our field of attention.

An easy mistake to correct

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2 Responses to Memoir Versus Fiction, or Is Memoir Fiction?

  1. Avatar
    Bob LaRue February 21, 2019 at 8:17 PM #

    What do you think of using an italicized paragraph from the present to introduce a transitional chapter? “Looking back now, I realize…” in italics and then the story continues using first person POV.

  2. Avatar
    Denis Ledoux March 10, 2019 at 12:19 PM #

    Rather than a chapter, I might simply use the voice of the author [in the present of today] to expand on something that the character [usually also the author, but not always] is experiencing in the present of the story. For instance, “I started to take piano lessons from Miss Rioux [this is the present of the story], but at the time I did not realize that… [the author is speaking from the present of today to explain something in the present of the story]”
    “At the time, I did not realize that…” is obviously the author consciousness intruding on the “present” of the story.’

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