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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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shaping theme

Shaping Your Theme

The theme is the message—the why—of your writing.

You imbue the whole of your story with your theme and it, in turn, influences the choice of every element in your story—even when you’re not aware of it. In fact, all writing carries a message from the writer, an index of the motivation of the artist. Theme can be as broad as “There are good guys and bad guys, and you can tell them apart” and as subtle as “I want to tell others what it was like to live at a certain time of my life.”
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Truth Telling – A Revolutionary Act

One of the most transformative statements an individual can make is truth telling and objectivity. This is true in your memoir writing as well. Do you dare tell the truth in your memoir?

not telling the truth in a memoir

The Importance of Facts in Memoir Writing

The importance of facts in memoir writing The importance of facts in memoir writing such as dates, addresses, names, and relationships, are one of its special feature. Memoir writing cannot, without deleting from its value, omit dates and specific identification of locales, names of individuals and their relationships to one another. Memoir writing is factual writing: […]

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

DL: 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.

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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The Memoir Network Don't Let Writer's Block Stop You

2 Causes of Memoir Writer’s Block: Not Telling the Truth or Writing Unimportant Material

Many writers suffer from writer’s block, yet few understand—and much less resolve—its possible causes. There are a number of reasons that contribute to difficulty—especially blockage—in writing. In memoir writing, the infamous “writer’s block” can result from avoidance—that is, you don’t want to deal with uncomfortable material and so you “block.”

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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