Writing a Memoir - article

One of the most important things to realize about memoir is that it needs to read like fiction. You need to captivate your reader so that they forget they’re reading a true story. True crime works similarly—it’s nonfiction, but the reader needs to be engrossed in the story. You don’t want a voice that simply relates facts to the reader. You want a voice that shows the reader what’s going on and puts him or her in the room with the people you’re writing about. It’s all right that the dialogue may not be 100 percent accurate, because you didn’t have a tape recorder going at the time. You just need to make the dialogue feel real. When you read it out loud after you’ve written it, it should sound like a real conversation. You shouldn’t try to force slang or dialect into the conversation to make it feel real, but you should try to recount it as well as you can in a voice that sounds as genuine as possible. It’s not easy to do, but reading it out loud and having others read it and critique it can help. The trick is to make readers feel like they were there. It’s difficult, but it can certainly be done and has been done in the past. Reading how other authors have done it is always a good idea.

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  • Great article!

  • Good point--I just finished my memoir, LAPD Chronicles, and I used that style of telling stories as if it they were just happining. I received good professional reviews, so maybe I got something right. It has to read like a story with little unnecessary stuff in it. I told stories and interjected my personal info into them. I spread my personal throughtout the book.
  • I have always wondered about memoir writing. It must be very difficult to put your story out there - a brave thing to do.