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Don't let writer's blok stop you

Thinking About Memoir Writing

Our right thinking about memoir writing projects or our right talking about them can lead to success or failure. We can be very clever about our evasive tactics and disguise them as right thinking. Here are three examples that can pass for thoughtfulness rather than evasion.

memoir or autobiographical fiction

Fiction and memoir writing: When Is It not a Memoir?

Fiction and memoir writing—what’s the difference? I have been reading a memoir that has been doing well here in Maine (it’s by an excellent Maine writer)–I can’t vouch for its reach in the rest of the country. It was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt so I can only presume it is receiving support elsewhere.

It’s an interesting book, very well-written in terms of style and organization, but my nagging doubt [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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Avoid Cliches and Stereotypes

You can avoid cliches and stereotypes.

If you do not avoid cliches and stereotypes, you will undermine the unique and personal feel of your memoir. Cliches and stereotypes place people in often erroneous and certainly indefensible 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 and how we write about them.

“She was a mother-hen–you know how mothers are!”

“My father had a heart of gold.”

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Writing Interesting and Effective Dialog

Dialog allows the reader to hear the voice of the character. It is an opportunity to use regionalisms and particularities of speech. Even to write in pauses if that was typical of the person. “Ain’t much wrong with it,” my grandfather would say…

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Eight Reasons to Share the Inner You

Our lives are composed not only of facts and dates but also of dreams, expectations–realized or denied–and hopes. You are not alone in having lived an inner life. Others too have experienced much of what you felt and dreamed for yourself and are likely to identify with some, or even much, of what you say. […]

similes and metaphors

Similes and Metaphors: Don’t Let Them Scare You!

“I don’t quite know how to describe what I’m feeling,” you might say during your writing as you grope for a way to describe in words this emotion that is beyond words. There is a solution to this dilemma that writers often resort to—but one too many are sure they can’t handle. It is the use of images, specifically similes and metaphors. These will bring your text to a level beyond words.

Not sure how to handle these literary techniques? Not to worry. The following article explains much. You will read examples of similes and metaphors and learn the difference between similes and metaphors

1. A simile is a comparison that uses like or as.

When you say, “Life is like a merry-go-round”, you are making an image we call a simile—even if it’s not a terribly original one. It’s a simile, too, if you write, “I’m busy as a bee.” In a simile, because of the use of like and as, it is clear that the writer is making a comparison. Here is an example of a simile:

My love is like the red, red rose/That’s newly sprung in June, /My love is like the melody/That’s sweetly played in tune.   —Robert Burns

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Telling the Truth About your Life

In a world where we are constantly being bombarded with subtle—and not so subtle—messages about who we ought to be, it is a bold statement to take a stand for personal truth and authenticity.

The telling of your stories is a revolutionary act.

—Sam Keen, Writer

One of the most transformative statements an individual can make is to tell his/her story with honesty and objectivity. At its best, this is what a memoir is—a statement that declares “this is who I am, who I think of myself as being.”

Lest you think that telling the truth is only about revealing scandals and unmasking abuses, let me assure you that it is more often about smaller issues, issues more within the realm of the everyday experience. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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Why Use Precise Language?

Precise Language or Extensive Vocabulary?

Many memoir writers are under the impression that you need to have an extensive vocabulary to write. An extensive vocabulary can only help you—if by “extensive” you mean many precise words, not just big ones.

Precise words are specific and not vague and ineffective like nice, awful, big, OK. “She was nice” is vague. “She understood different points of view” is specific and precise language.

“He was awfully big” is vague. You might write instead: “My father measured six foot five and weighed 275 pounds.”

Don’t write: “The job was OK.” Write: “The job was in my field of competence, but its salary was inadequate and its requirements did not challenge me.”

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Writing Feelings into Your Memoir

Writing Feelings into Your Memoir

Recently on the Forum, David wrote about not accessing the feeling side of his memories, of writing a memoir that, if I am understanding him right, was all details and facts.

Below is my response which can serve as a stand alone article, but I hope you will go to the Forum and read the thread and even write a note to David about what your take is on his situation.

Or if you prefer, leave a comment below about your thoughts about writing feelings into your memoir.

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

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