How to Write an Attention-Grabbing Opener and Backstory for a Memoir

The opening paragraph and first few pages of ANY book are critical. This is the writer's chance to grab the reader's attention and keep the pages turning. When beginning a memoir in particular, capture the reader right away with some important story clues but don’t dump the whole backstory all at once, says Marlan Warren, author and publicist with Roadmap Communications. Instead, sprinkle in bits and pieces of the backstory throughout the opening of your book. This way, readers will want to stick around to see what unfolds next and won't get bored. Warren’s own fictional memoir, Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged: All's Not Fair in Love or War, begins with a psychic reading and her main character asking, “Should I leave my husband?” This sets up the book’s theme and tells readers what the conflict will be, but still leaves plenty of mystery to grab attention.

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