Here are some tips about writing memoir that I picked up through books and lectures.
1. Memoir is a story, a story where discoveries are usually made. It’s the writer’s story about a specific time in his or her life with the writer’s present day reflections on that time. “Just the facts, Ma’am” is autobiography.
2. To be interesting, a story needs tension, a problem with an outcome. An exciting journey. A protagonist and an antagonist—even if the antagonist is a concept; like in my memoir, time or educational understanding.
3. The reader needs to be immersed in that story. Scenes keep the story moving forward. Insight helps the reader understand reasons for actions and emotion. Tuck telling details and insight within the action of the story.
4. Memoir needs to be populated with three dimensional real characters. Keep the protagonist genuine for readers to stay connected to him or her. Yes, the protagonist needs to grow and develop throughout the manuscript, but his or her core beliefs or wit should show in each chapter.
5. The important thing to remember about any chapter in memoir is that it contains substance and moves the plot forward. Scaffolding or outlining can help a memoirist keep on track and organized. Remember, outlines can be changed during the writing process.
6. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should be writing about. Take all suggestions to your writing as suggestions. It’s your memoir, not someone else’s.
Memoir can be a bit like writing fiction, except your plot has actually happened. Please feel free to offer any ideas you may have. Thanks.