More about What Memoir Is and Is Not

Aug 28, 2013 by

More about What Memoir Is and Is Not

Let’s do a little clarification about memoir.  While it certainly is your personal story, you have to make choices about what to include and what to leave out.

If you’re not sure about what should be included and what should be left out, you might want to check out a new workbook that is designed to help anyone prepare for writing their memoir, Journey of Memoir.

In Linda Joy Myers’ workbook Journey of Memoir she paints a very clear picture of exactly what memoir is and is not:

  • A memoir is a story with structure, a theme, and a reason for a reader to be engaged.
  • A memoir draws upon the skills and tools of fiction in presenting a story—with scenes, dialogue, sensual details, and the ability to create a world for the reader.
  • A memoir is not a journal. In a journal, your personal writing is without structure and written to be kept private.
  • A memoir is written for an audience to read.A memoir has an overarching message that a reader is left with, the reason for the book.
  • A memoir is focused on a topic or theme.

This list of what a memoir is and is not helps you as a writer to determine exactly how to portray your personal story for your reader.

We often get caught up in the fact that we’re writing our life story, and feel that we have to include absolutely everything that ever happened to us, beginning with our birth and recreating every step we have ever taken, “and then, and then, and then…”

Because memoir draws on the skills and tools of fiction to create and craft the story, the questions you have to ask yourself as a writer is this, “How will this event or part of my life help to move the story forward? Does it illustrate or illuminate my overall theme? If so, put it in. If it is just an amusing anecdote or a personal favorite experience, save it for sharing with a group of friends or family at your next gathering.”

Every human being is emotionally attached to their story, their experiences. When crafting your memoir, your job is to sift through all of those experiences to see which of them your readers need to know about in order to understand your story by moving the plot forward.

Your memoir is unique to you. No one in the world can tell your story the way you would. For those people out there who worry that their “story idea” might be stolen, this is comforting!  More importantly, your story is told from the “I” perspective and how you understand that experience to have affected your life.

Journey of Memoir

Someone else might remember an event differently. That’s because they experienced the same event and remembered things differently because it was filtered through their life experiences. Does this mean your version isn’t true? Absolutely not. Your version is true for you and that is the position you take when writing your memoir.

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