How Memoirs Work

How Memoirs Work

A memoir is a genre that deserves a special place in literature. It is more than just a story about your life. Writing a memoir is like shining a torch on a particular phase of your life that has had an impact on you.

Most people have a story to tell. But they do not believe enough in the value of that story to write it for others to read. And that is fine. If you want to just want to write for yourself, you can start journaling and that is a wonderful source for your creative output.

However, memoirs when published are an incredible source of value for readers, historians, library archives and more. When you pen your memoirs, you are in fact capturing history. How else would we know what atrocities happened during the second World War if it were not for Anne Frank?

Your memoir is more than just about you. It is a compelling piece of narrative that focuses on a part of your life. It is natural to suppose that you are writing because that part of your life has had an impact on you.The lessons you take away from those experiences in your life will help others too. People read memoirs not to spy on your life but to be able to relate. To be able to believe that they are not alone.

Here are a few things to remember if you are contemplating writing your memoir:


  • Be truthful in your memoirs. It is a reflection of you.
  • Be sensitive and respectful. Your memories will involve other people too.
  • Do not whine. The memoir is not a place to uncover your grouses with the world.
  • Build your narrative using storytelling techniques.
  • Chronology - believe it or not, chronology matters. But if you have expert writing skills, you can play around with timelines as Cheryl Strayed does in her book, Wild.
  • Research well. This is particularly important if you are referring to important historical events or depicting the lifestyle of a different era.
  • Write your first draft without reservations. Editing will polish your work.

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