Memoir must be told in story with all the story elements in place. But of course, everything must be true.
And that’s why memoir is so difficult!
Up the ante, build, complicate, add twists and turns, find resolution—in memoir. Nuts! It’s extremely difficult when it is all personal and needs to be true. And then add insight. Yes, insight in memoir as well as in fiction. The protagonist must share insight into her actions. The reader must follow along her inner thoughts to see how she works out her story problems. How she grows; how she changes.
To get emotion on the page, the protagonist must be vulnerable. Easier when it is a fictitious character you are writing about than yourself. But I understand that to be able to connect with readers, to get that “me too” feeling, I must allow them into my mind, my worries, my thoughts, my decisions. This is what makes memoir so powerful, so transformative to others. It’s about why the situation or action matters to the protagonist. Why does it matter that Victoria goes to college at this time? What does going to college mean to Victoria?
Memoir as in fiction, tough questions need to be asked and then answered. And the content of these answers need to be important to the characters. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I’m struggling with. And this is why I’d wish I didn’t know that memoir needs to be told like a story. Then I could write my memoir like a collection of humorous anecdotes. But then it wouldn’t be as meaningful to others. There’s the reason why we authors keep looking to better our skills in writing.
This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s SupportGroup. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.
May publishing be offered to any writer who seeks it in 2017. Have a wonderful New Year!
12 thoughts on “Insecure Writer’s Support Group asks: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?”
Maybe getting all those individual stories out will help you see the overarching story of you – and then I bet you'll be writing like crazy.
It does sound complicated. I think Nicki's suggestion is a good idea.
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Nicki! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a note. You are right. If I can only get everything down in writing, then I can hopefully see the story arc. Thanks again for leaving a note on Adventures in Writing. It's greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much, Alex, for stopping by Adventures in Writing and leaving a note. It's truly appreciated. And thank you, sir, for creating the Insecure Writers Support Group and allowing me to be a part of it. All the best to you in 2017.
Wishing you much success in 2017.
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit
You're right. Memoir is very challenging. I wrote mine and published in 2009. It took me 10 years. I finally hired an editor to help me organize my thoughts and once I figured out the sort of "theme" to my life, it became easier to choose what elements to include in the memoir. It's different from autobiography, which is one's whole life, as opposed to one aspect of one's life, which is usually what memoir is. Good luck!
Thank you so much, Juneta. And the same to you. Thanks so much for visiting Adventures in Writing and leaving a note. It is appreciated more than you realize.
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Karen! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a note. Congratulations on publishing your memoir. Memoir is indeed only one aspect of life. What was your memoir about? Mine is the ten years it took me to get my B.A. degree from college while raising five children, the oldest being special needs. Thanks again for visiting Adventures in Writing. All the best to you in the New Year!
Hi Victoria – Memoir … yes I'm doing some now as part of 'a course' … but I'll write within their bounds, though keeping my own voice – interestingly blogging has certainly helped in that direction. I never wanted to write – but now I couldn't do without it … this year I hope to spread my wings … how you coped with 5 children and writing – I'll never know …
Karen's comment is interesting … but makes sense … cheers and good luck for 2017 – Hilary
Happy New Year, Hilary! Good for you to be in a course for memoir. Thanks for the advice. I need to remember that any course is offering guidelines. I must keep my own voice in order for the memoir to ring true. Thanks for visiting Adventures in Writing and leaving your good wishes. They are greatly appreciated.
love your insight into memoirs! soon, i hope to write one about my mom – she lived quite a life, much suffering but came out splendidly. i hope i can do it justice!
and thanks for stopping by my cradle rock release tour at chemist ken's!
Thank you so much for your kind words, Tara! It is always a pleasure to read what you are doing on your blog.
Tara, I think it would be wonderful for you to recount what happened in your mother's life. And I truly believe you would make it interesting to the reader. As I’ve said before, I enjoy reading your blog. I am only trying to help with understanding what memoir really is.
Memoir is only a slice of life and what it meant to you, not so much autobiography. If you want the story about your mother's life to be memoir and you are writing it, the story would be how what happened to your mother shaped your own feelings and life or how you have changed because of what happened to your mother. True memoir is about the writer and her feelings about what is happening. You could write about your observations of what happened to your mother. If you write about what happened to your mother with all your mother's feelings and thoughts about what was going on, you'd be more like the reporter letting the reader understand what it would feel like if this happened to the reader.
All the best to you in 2017. Thanks so much for visiting Adventures in Writing and leaving your kinds words. They mean the world to me.