Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Find Your Life Story by Writing a Memoir

Memoirs come in a variety of flavors: travel, spiritual, food, legacy, and others. Although each has a unique focus, they share the need for story. Vignettes can be sad, funny, or poignant, but they need the structure of story to captivate the reader.

The first chapters of the book give a plan for starting a memoir and finding the story buried in your reams of material. After this section, the authors devote a chapter to each type of memoir from travel to legacy. At the end of each chapter, you will find exercises to help you use the information in the chapter, writing prompts and a short section on publication.

The second part of the book is devoted to publishing. Sarah Jane writes about what agents do. After reading her section, I think anyone would be fortunate to find an agent like her who not only tries to sell your book, but helps you over the rough places while you're writing it. Several editors discuss what they do and how to edit your work. Finally, they include a section on self-publishing which is valuable if you want to give your descendents a real book, but aren't looking for a traditional publisher

If you plan to write a memoir, this is an excellent way to start. The book is crammed with information on writing memoir and on publishing. Although you may need other references along the way, this one combined with a good critique group can get you started in the right direction.

I also recommend this book for fiction writers. Although the information isn't new, seeing it from a slightly difference perspective may give you ideas for improving your writing.

I didn't choose this book with the idea of writing a memoir, but after reading it, I'm thinking about starting one. Writing a memoir, like any writing project, is a lot of work, but the payoff is learning more about yourself, finding your story, and having a gift to pass on to your descendants.


I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.