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writing a first draft

You Can’t Write Without a First Draft

Writing Your First Draft

Give yourself permission to write a rough first draft. Write pages and pages in which you describe the who, the what, the where and the when of the story. Later, as you rework the piece, the why will be written in. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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show don't tell

Show Don’t Tell: Don’t Tell Us About Your Characters—Show Them Walking Across the Page!

Show Don’t Tell Rules the Day!

How many times have you heard “Show your story rather than tell it!”

And, how many times have you gone right on and did a lot of telling! I know I have.

“Showing” is one technique that will always improve your writing. I admit that there is some great writing that makes a precedent for “tell,” but as a rule “show” is more effective.

Here are three “show don’t tell” ideas to improve your story—every time. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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write a significant memoir

How to Write a Significant Memoir

That our memoir is insignificant is about the last thing we memoir writers ever want to read about our magnum opus. How do we write a significant memoir? What separates a significant memoir from an insignificant one? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not fame it’s not the scope of the arena of the action. […]

theme in a memoir

Is Theme in a Memoir The Driving Force?

How important is theme in a memoir? Theme in a memoir is absolutely important! Here’s is a distinction between a family-focused autobiography and a memoir that, I hope, will help you to appreciate the value and the role of theme in a memoir.

one true sentence

Hemingway’s “One True Sentence” Can Save Your Memoir

How a “one true sentence” can save your memoir

 

I have found the “one true sentence” to be very effective in focusing both my own memoir writing and in the writing of people I have coached and edited. Hemingway’s one true sentence is an effective tool for better writing. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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write a significant memoir

Your Life as a Myth Part 3

The following is the third installment of a three-part series on the use of myths and archetypes in memoir writing. In this first post of Your Life as a Myth, I wrote about both archetypal patterns in general and about the martyr archetype. In the second post, I wrote about the orphan and the martyr. These posts are excerpted from Turning Memories Into Memoirs / A Handbook for Writing Lifestories.

In the first installment of Your life as a Myth I wrote about the martyr archetype and in the second installment, I wrote about the orphan and the prince-left-at-the-pauper’s-door. Today, I will offer you some practical suggestions for implementing the concept of archetypes in your memoir writing.

Writing from the perspective of personal myths can explain a lot about the stories you are recording. In addition, consciously living archetypes in your own life and turning them into positive forces is a rewarding path for self-growth. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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life as a myth

Your Life as a Myth Part 1

The following is the first installment of a three-part series on the use of myths and archetypes in memoir writing. In this first post of Your Life as a Myth, I write about both archetypal patterns in general and about the martyr archetype. In the second post, I write about the orphan and the martyr. In the third post, I write about general considerations of using myths and archetypes. These posts are excerpted from Turning Memories Into Memoirs / A Handbook for Writing Lifestories.

 

Myths are the stories we create to express how we perceive the world and life. How we live our lives is determined by the myths we live by, but our lives also reveal our myths to ourselves and to the world.

What are your myths? Look at your life, at your feelings, at your responses to others. That is where your myths reside! That is where your life as a myth can be found. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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vivid characters

Vivid Characters Are Essential in a Memoir

Why Creating Vivid Characters is Essential

The people in your story are your characters. It is your task as memoirist to bring vivid characters to the attention of your readers. You must use descriptive writing to present believable characters. Without other people, our lives and memoirs risk becoming dull. Although ideas are pivotal for many individuals, relationships are even more commanding. We are intrigued with who other people are and how they function. “Who’s that? What are they doing? Where did they come from?” These are question we want answered. To write a strong story, capitalize on this interest.
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Pathway to memoir writing

Don’t De-value Your Characters by Using Cliches and Stereotypes

Cliches and Stereotypes

Don’t devalue your characters by using cliches and stereotypes. This will undermine the unique and personal feel of your memoir. Cliches and stereotypes place people in categories. As short-hand ways of writing and speaking, they reflect ready-made thoughts and adversely affect the ways we relate to our families and friends as unique individuals.

  • “She was a mother-hen; You know how mothers are!”
  • “My father had a heart of gold.”
  • “Those were beautiful days when we were happy.”

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writing a first draft

Writing a First Draft: Why They’re Called “First”

When you are writing a first draft: nothing can rightly be called a first unless there is a second. First grade implies second grade; first class implies second class; first book implies (we hope) second book, a first draft implies a second draft.

That is why first drafts are called first drafts. A writer must expect to write a second draft, and a third even. No one can sit down and churn out countless pages of prose that don’t need rewriting. Jack Kerouac claimed he did it with On the Road, but we know now that he was stretching the truth. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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