“What’s Your Story?” That’s a loaded question for many people to answer when they decide to write a memoir, as there are things buried deep in our pasts that we may or may not want to resurrect. Compound that with questions like, where do I start? What part of my life do I want to write about? When I die, will someone find it and read it?
Those were some real questions asked by the men, women, and yes, children who journeyed with me to discover the answers through learning the process of, “Writing a Childhood Remembrance,” at the South Dade Regional Library on Saturday, October 1st. And although the ages of the participants ranged from 8 to 80 years old, the dissimilarity between them made it all the more fun!”
Many thanks to Michele Stiles, Branch Manager, and Debra (Joy) Shepherd, Children’s Services Manager, for giving me the opportunity to present, “Writing a Childhood Remembrance” at the South Dade Regional Library in Cutler Bay, Florida. A very special thank you to several of my South Florida Writer’s Association (SFWA) “family” who attended my presentation to show their support. Your kindness was truly appreciated!
Everyone has a Story Worth Telling
There’s something magical about the ability to transform ordinary circumstances into memorable scenes that make us laugh or cry. Most of us have a special incidence or places from our past – perhaps where we were born, or spent years of our childhood which will always be with us whether we want it to be or not. These emotional ties with our past and with “Place” make them valid and important material for writing.
Writing a memoir means you’re the author and subject, researcher and storyteller, narrator and audience. That’s a lot to ask of any writer. Still, writing a memoir is an adventure I wouldn’t miss!
In case you’ve never written a memoir, below are a few tips:
A Memoir is not an autobiography:
• A Memoir is a focused theme about a key aspect in a person’s life: like an event, or a choice they made.
• A Memoir can start anywhere in the person’s life.
Let’s Talk About Plot
A good way to begin the challenge of writing a memoir is to choose a theme (subject) from somewhere in your life (no, you don’t have to start with being a baby), write your plot, and begin telling your story.
Think about a turning point in your life, a special time that changed you, and altered your life in such a way that it was never the same again. Perhaps you even turned your life path from one direction to another.
Bring Your Story To Life!
Use your five senses to:
Chapters Give Your Memoir Structure
When writing a memoir, breaking your thoughts into chapters is very useful, because they help you and your story to move on. There’s a reason we have expressions like, we’ve “closed a chapter” in our life, or “opened a new chapter”, and it’s even more relevant when writing a memoir.
Tell The Truth
Be honest and genuine. Your memoir is based on the truth, so choose something that is true for you, and who you are. That can be tricky for you as a writer, because we don’t want to hurt or upset someone we’ve written into our story. Which brings up my next point: Memoir writing should not be used as an occasion to settle an old score, unless you’re writing it to get it off your chest, and intend to burn it or bury it.
Point of View
The first person point of view is often used when writing a memoir because it is the easiest, and has the advantage of immediacy and a clear, singular voice. You are the main character, and your thoughts and perceptions control the story. So use words like, I, me, or my. Concentrate on strong nouns and verbs. Remember to stay with only one viewpoint.
Characters Make Your Story
One of the great things about writing a memoir is that there is so much life material to use when we allow ourselves to fully explore our pasts. Much of that material comes from the characters in our lives. And, because we know them so well, it’s easy to skimp on characterization as we write our stories. Remember that your readers know nothing about any of these people until you tell them. Therefore, you must present all the real people you write about — including yourself — as characters.
Dialogue keeps your story moving. It enhances the emotions within a scene to add spark—or grief, or even terror. And remember that each of us has our own unique speaking style. Create dialogue that sounds like the person speaking by taking time to pin down the distinct speaking style of each of your key characters.
Punctuation – Create Body Language Using Words
In writing, punctuation plays the role of body language. It helps the reader hear your characters the way you want them to be heard. It can be as simple as a dull mumble, a joyful noise, a gasp, or a raspy whisper… Your reader’s hear periods, commas, question marks, exclamation points, and ellipsis as kidsmysteryboks.comyou pause, ask a question, shout, or don’t finish your sentence.
For more information about Memoir Writing head over to my website and check out my blog at: kidsmysterybooks.com. Please Like us on Facebook. If you would like to ask me questions about writing a memoir, or to schedule me as a speaker at your school or organization, please email me at: Linkedin, or [email protected]
Posted In: Speaker & Presenter at South Dade Regional Library
Tags: adults, challenge, chapters, Characterization, dialogue, hear, kids, life path, life story, plot, scene, senses, sight, smell, Story, story line, subject, taste, touch, truth, Working Writers, writers association, writing a memoir, writing structure