Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Writing Memoirs

Question: What is some advice for writing memoirs that people will read?

Quote: “For starters, analyze your motivation. Does this book have to be written? Why? To leave a legacy for your kids? Tell a story of overcoming odds to inspire others? Come to terms with family issues? Teach or expose something important? Launch a career? Bad motivation: To make a quick buck. To get revenge on an ex.” P. 30.

Quote: Do your homework. For memoirs, research the genre. There are ‘My Horrible Childhood’ confessions, addiction stories, career tales, political screeds … illness-overcome books, daddy books, crime admissions, Holocaust memories, first-person self-help guides, sociological studies, timely ethnic slices of life, and more. Which subgenre are you aiming for?” P. 30.

Quote: “…nobody wants to hear your entire chronological story from birth. Many books focus on one year, or a specific time period in a subject’s life. Figure out what’s most exciting, unusual, timely, brilliant, incredible or helpful and start there….” P. 31.

Comment: I wish I had read this advice when writing my memoir. I would have approached it significantly differently, especially “nobody wants to hear your entire chronological story from birth.” I set out to write the entire chronological story of my teaching career. Mistake. RayS.

 Title: “Secrets to Selling Your First Book.” Susan Shapiro. The Writer (April 2011), 30-32.

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