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dramatic story

Dramatic story development, rather than dramatic events, adds up to an interesting memoir

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People will sometimes suppose that only big drama can make an interesting memoir. Of course, there are many readers who require constant titillation if they are to remain reading. Perhaps they are not the readers you should be seeking for your memoir. Nonetheless, nearly all readers require some attention to “interesting.”  

No, I do not believe that it is the scope of the drama of your memoir that is the crucial element to creating interest. Some would-be memoir-writers get discouraged by the ordinariness of their lives. Yet, I have found that almost everyone I have had a serious conversation with about memoir writing had enough happen in their lives to fashion an interesting memoir.  

An interesting memoir: drama vs. dramatic story development?

Much more important than the inherent drama of an action is the dramatic development of your story.

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22 Memoir-Writing Goals for the Second Half of 2022: Your Half Year Boost

DL: This post was originally published on December 29, 2021 and I have tweaked them to fit the second half of the year. How many of these goals have you accomplished in the first half of the year? These remain great goals. There’s still 6 months left in 2022 for you to succeed at these!

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Did you find yourself wandering along with your memoir writing in the first half of the 2022 year and not achieving your memoir-writing goals?  Do you have a sense that you might have accomplished a bit more writing than you have?

At the half year point, it is traditional to review how the past two quarters went for you and to create goals for yourself for the six months. (A goal is a wish with action steps and a timeline.) These goals need to be written and reviewed periodically.

Studies have shown that people who set goals in writing have a better outcome vis-à-vis accomplishing what they set out to do. Here’s a report on one such study. (The famous Harvard goal-setting study so many of us have heard of apparently never happened, but the concept of goal setting is clearly important and is explored in the linked article.)

22 Memoir-Writing Goals for 2022

Since this is a memoir writing blog, I thought it is appropriate for me to come up with goals that would further your writing success in 2022. And why not play with the year’s number—22?

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Writing Feelings into Your Memoir

Writing Feelings into Your Memoir

Recently, David asked in an email about “writing feelings into your memoir,” about writing a memoir that, if I am understanding him right, is not all details and facts.

Below is my response which can serve as a stand-alone article to help you write your own memoir.

Leave a comment below expressing your experience of writing feelings into your memoir.

Here are some of my suggestions for writing feelings into your memoir:

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theme-focused memoir

The Theme-focused Memoir

While many of the people whom I have helped to write a memoir have come ostensibly to write about their lives – to celebrate some achievement, I would say that many of these people are also writing a mission-driven memoir, a theme-focused memoir.

Behind the desire to tell about their lives, there is some intent to promote a point of view. This comes under many guises. Generally, of course, this point of view is called “theme.”

The theme-focused memoir is the most common model.

Writing a manuscript only of one’s experience—the dates, the facts, the activities—may often not enough to entice the reader—at least, it will not interest the reader who is not family and friends. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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truth in memoir

“Making Nice” Will Trip You Up

We all have family stories that we have heard over and over again. When they are told in family gatherings, no one expects any contradiction. After all, the stories are the “truth” about someone in the family but “making nice”—not telling the truth in memoir—will trip you up.

How do you write truth in memoir writing?

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the best memoir writing book

Should You Create an Outline or a Memory List for your Memoir?

DL: An outline or a Memory List? This is a perennial favorite with the search engines. I consider it to be a foundational post whose info can guide you to success. I hope you enjoy it.

A Memory List is far superior to an outline!

For some writers, there comes a moment in writing a memoir when the audacity of the undertaking hits them. Perhaps they think doorslammers like: “This can take forever.” “Writing a memoir will never pay for itself.” “I can’t afford to do this!” They reach for certainty. And that certainly if often a reversion to essay and report writing. They want an outline to assure the task gets done right. So, an outline or a Memory List?

The following is a comment to someone who asked in the Memoir Forum if she should create an outline and how to know when the page and chapters were the right length.

1. Do not write a memoir from an outline.

I do not write from an outline. Instead, I create a Memory List as outlined in Chapter 2 of Turning Memories Into Memoirs. The Memory List helps you to follow the promptings of the unconscious rather than the dictates of the conscious mind as happens with an outline. (An outline is great for an essay—”The Three Causes of the American Civil War”— but it is the death of an exploratory memoir.) So…

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lightning bug words in memoir

Lightning Bug Words

Are You Using Lightning Bug Words? How do we write in lightning and not in lightning bugs? Using the right words when writing your memoir will illuminate and inform your readers.

the best memoir writing book

Add Depth To Your Memoir

It’s time to add depth to your memoir. Here are links to five information-packed articles that are sure to make you think more deeply about your writing—and help you in the important task of re-writing your stories and vignettes so that they form a more coherent and meaningful whole.

memoir interviewing

Memoir Interviewing: how to prepare for one and carry it off!

Memoir interviewing is an integral piece of research. Although you may assume you can depend on your memory when you write your lifestories—memory isn’t always as reliable as you want it to be. Interviews with relevant family members and friends can supplement your memory and broaden the perspective of your memoir.

Below are some notes on how to prepare for the best memoir interviewing you’ll ever undertake!

1) Select whom you will be memoir interviewing.

If your time is limited, or your family is large and offers many choices, it will be all the more important to identify a manageable number of knowledgeable relatives and friends to interview.

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