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memoir theme

Monday Focus: Avoid this big mistake! Don’t slight the soul of your story.

Your theme is the soul of your story, the element that elevates it from a recitation of facts to a statement. Don’t take your theme lightly.

Understanding “theme” and its role in your memoir is a core task that will both simplify and clarify your message—i.e., your theme. It calls for your full attention. Your theme is perhaps what has motivated you to start your memoir project. There is likely something you want to say about life—your life.

Your theme is also called your message. The theme can be lofty (striving for virtue will bring rewards) or it can be trite—albeit true— (life is hard). Theme drives what elements you choose to include in your memoir and animates your narrative.

Don’t Let Theme Degenerate Into This!

Everyone writes with some hope of getting a message across. It’s an important message—at least to you.

Here’s the risk you run when you commit to getting a message to the reader: you can slip into “preaching.” Be wary of insisting on the “shouldas, oughtas.” They will sink your memoir into a polemic and cause your audience to flee you—or at the least to resist you.

Reaching for preachiness is not part of these best memoir-writing tasks I am outlining—for a good reason. Who wants to be preached to?

Go for theme—because frankly you can’t avoid it, but eschew preachiness. Preachiness you can avoid!

French Boy

When I wrote my childhood memoir, I was interested in three themes: my ethnic culture, the role of Catholicism in my life and class consciousness. These three recur continually in French Boy.

In conclusion

If you are interested in pursuing this topic a bit further, try these video resources:

~ A BIG WHY will see you to success  

~ Your Memoir Can Be More Consequential

~ Make your Memoir Significant.

~ Upgrade Your Memoir’s Significance: 10 Writing Tips.

Free is a great way to get going, but sometimes mastering a task requires investing in resources that will inform your effort and cut down on the time you’ll need to write your book and produce a better memoir.

turning memories into memoirs

Try our flagship book Turning Memories into Memoirs / A Handbook for Writing Lifestories—in either paperback or ebook versions. It is available this week at a 20% discount. Use the coupon code TMBK20.

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