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Show, don't tell about your characters

Show Don’t Tell, or Don’t Describe Your Characters–Show Them!

The old adage “Show, don’t tell!” is as true as ever. It 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.

1. Your pen is your movie camera.

In a film, a director ( that’s you!) doesn’t have an actor go on screen to tell the audience that someone is angry. Instead, he shows the character in a scene where anger is in action. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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memoir coaching

Memoir Coaching Laser-focuses on Getting Your Memoir Written Faster and Better

How does memoir coaching improve your manuscript?

“What does ‘My family was poor’ mean, ” I asked a memoir writer in a recent coaching session.

Poor?” he asked at the other end of the phone line. “What do you mean what does poor mean? Poor means poor!”

“Does poor mean you didn’t have enough to eat or does it mean you never ate out at restaurants? Does poor mean you were forced to run out on your rent or does it mean you did not have an in-ground pool?”

Clearly, descriptive always adjectives don’t mean what we think they mean!

Empty literary “calories”

On the spot, I shared with him how adjectives are empty literary “calories.” They do nothing for the story but fill up space. They pretend to be effective but are not. Every writer needs to depend on scenes, dialog, settings, characters to tell the real story.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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writing about non-events

Writing about Non-Events: They Belong in Your Memoir Writing

When writing about non-events, it can seem like they don’t belong in a memoir. But, often, non-events can have been more difficult than the “events” that do challenge us.

What are Non-Events?

While having coffee in a restaurant recently, I saw a man and a 14- or 15-year-old boy whom I took to be his son walk in together and order. Then, carrying their trays, they sat at a table near me. At first, they were both silent, and then the boy began to speak. He spoke quite a bit. I couldn’t hear the words, but he seemed to be talking about something that had happened to him. The man occasionally nodded his head in response, but I heard him talk only once. The boy kept speaking. His head and arms were involved. He evidently expected responses which, other than via a nod, were not forthcoming.

Perhaps I fantasized elements of my own life, but I imagined the boy wanting his father to answer, to engage in an exchange with him but nothing of the sort happened. At one point, as the boy was speaking, his father got up and went to the trash basket and dumped the contents of his tray in and waited for the boy to come do the same. Seeming to understand that the meal was over from the father’s point of view, the boy got up and dumped his things into the trash also and the two walked out together.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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write for a larger audience

Become a Better Writer: 4 Ways

You can become a better writer, but it will take some work.

How do you become a better writer? Well, how do you achieve mastery in any skill? The answer, however it is presented, comes down to both acquiring knowledge pertaining to the skill and to putting in the time to practice the skill with critiques available to correct your technique and approach.

This is what I look for in the membership sites I am a member of. I benefit from significant new material sent to me regularly, from the live interactions via conference calls, individual contact or webinar and I also appreciate returning to the membership pages to review material. In this way I have contact with a master and I am revising my skills in a community of practitioners.

At the Memoir Network, I have created a master writer group that meets many of the same needs I have had met in the membership groups I subscribe to. This master writer group is called Write Your First Memoir Draft Course. A membership in the Write Your First Memoir Draft Course can get you in the frame of mind to undertake and finish your memoir.

This course has all the components to guide you to become a better writer.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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memoir writing program

Six Reasons to Join a Long Distance Memoir Writing Program in 2020

Many of the biggest challenges facing memoir writers can be alleviated by joining a distance-learning writing program.

Your participation will convince you that you can succeed.

Memoir writers—as all writers—work in isolation. There are many times when a memoir writer would like to have a contact with a system that could help her/him to resolve a writing issue—whether it’s  a question of grammar, style, or structure.

If you were not a plumber, would you do the plumbing to your house without first learning as much as you could about plumbing?

Of course, you would want to inform yourself.

You might peruse YouTube, buy some how-to books on plumbing, give a call to a person who is a plumber to ask your questions.

Here’s how you as a new writer can follow the same process to write your first memoir draft. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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dramatic story

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

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.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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First paragraph

The First Paragraph Can Make or Break a Memoir for the Reader

Writers sometimes struggle with how to begin a story and will not write the story until they have the beginning—the first paragraph.

This is not a good way to proceed.

The first paragraph of a memoir sets the tone.

The first paragraph creates the tone and often presents imagery that will shape the reader’s appreciation of your story—whether a vignette or a full memoir.

In a short story I wrote many years ago, I did not compose the first paragraph until I had written the whole story. Frankly, I was stumped and did not know how to begin the story, how to launch the  reader.

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Memoir Editing

A Memoir Coach or A Memoir Editor Gets You A Finished Memoir

We all wear many hats as we go through our days. In my case, I am a writer, a memoirist, a teacher, a memoir coach, a memoir editor, a co-author, a book publisher, and finally, a small business person. I wear those hats with pride and, I hope, some accomplishment.

Beyond these, I wear other hats as all of you do also. One is that of an athlete of sorts: there has been swimming, jogging, and weight lifting.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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memoir editing process

How Memoir Editing Works

When I begin the memoir editing process with clients, I tell them that a proper editing requires three “read-throughs.” It is impossible to give a manuscript all the attention it deserves in one reading.

That’s simply how memoir editing works when done properly

Reading a manuscript without doing any specific editing and forming only a general impression has always seemed a good idea in theory, but I have not found a way to do so that is economical. I have therefore evolved this concept of read-throughs as a memoir editing technique. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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the best memoir writing book

Write A Better Memoir: 10 How-to Tips

Writers ask me what they can do the most easily to write a better memoir. While I can understand the wish to write more quickly and easily, I’m going to share with you that writing a better memoir needs to be done slowly and thoughtfully. A rushed job is probably going to be a botched job.

The following are my recommendations to boost the quality of your memoir writing. They are obvious tasks which form the substance of this post. Each tip below comes loaded with links. In some instances, the identical words are highlighted, but they lead to separate articles that develop a different angle of the topic. Do not omit to click a repeated word.

I know some impatient readers are going to see following links as a problem, but I hope that you will not and will understand that you are being offered an in-depth e-course on how to improve your memoir writing. This is university-level work I am making available to you.

Be patient and dig in. In fact, it may take you a few days to fully absorb this post—but it will be amply worth the effort in the improved quality of your memoir.

1. Make a Memory List.

If there is one thing I would qualify as a magic bullet in memoir writing it would be the Memory List. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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