Writing a memoir can be a great way to share your life story with the world. If you have led a particularly exciting, adventurous or unusual life many people may love to hear your stories and could find your experiences genuinely fascinating.
However, writing a memoir isn’t easy. It doesn’t matter how much of a rollercoaster you’ve been on or how many unique journeys you’ve taken - if you can’t retell these stories well, and capture the details in a way that makes your audience engage with them, then you won’t get very far.
Unfortunately, the harsh truth is that many memoirs, if not handled in the right way, are just really dull.
To write a great memoir, the material needs to capture the reader's interest and be delivered in a way that entertains, educates or inspires them.
So if you are thinking of writing a memoir what can you do to make sure that yours doesn’t fall into the typical traps?
Make sure you have focus
Your memoir needs to have a purpose or a theme. When you pick the moments in your life that you want to talk about, make sure that they all have a point, and that these individual points tie together to make it seem like one seamless journey. If you don’t, your memoir will read like a series of random, ill-thought out scenes that will feel stilted to read. Ask yourself what your memoir is about as well as what lessons you've learned to make sure that you have a clear focus before you begin.
Make sure your focus has mass appeal.
To make sure that your book appeals to a broad audience, the themes in your novel should be universal. It doesn’t matter how unique or unusual your experiences are; you need to ensure that your readers engage and empathize. You can do this by concentrating on how you felt during your experiences so that your readers can relate, even if the journey you are describing is nothing like their own.
Don’t write about it all
You may think your life is exceptionally fascinating and that everyone will love to hear every single detail about it, but unfortunately, in reality, you might find that people aren’t as interested as you thought. You know what it’s like when you're forced to sit down and watch a home movie about a recent trip your relative went on, or look through every single of the 500 pictures they took when they last made a trip, that wasn’t even abroad. We'll a memoir can come across a bit like that if you are not careful. You need to make sure and feel confident that not only do you have a great story to tell, but that you are able to step back and realize which bits might only be interesting to just you. Remember your readers don’t know you or care about you, so you need to ensure your story is one that will make them invest their time and emotions in.
That’s not to say that there aren’t people out there that do indeed have amazing stories to tell. But by following the tips above you can ensure that your's is one that will appeal to your audience.
Are you thinking about writing a memoir? What fascinating stories do you have in your past that might make a great read? Share them with us here!
It is so strange how I came across this article long after completing my memoir. As I have been saying in recent posts, no rules in writing are ever hard-and-fast and are meant to be broken. Rather what is mentioned is just guidelines or suggestions. I did try not to write everything I could recall about my childhood if I did not think it had to do with my history of depression, but tired to include details I felt were needed to add some description and background. I always wondered how other memoir writers have approached this angle, as many that I have read seem to divulge many details that could have been omitted according to this article. But then, if these authors had been told of these rules, then they were just breaking them. As the article also says, if a memoir is not handled in the right way, they can be dull. I may have unknowingly following this guideline when I tried to include details that I felt were necessary to give some description. And I ddi have a focus: on depression, a universal theme. And I did try "not to write it all." I completely deleted a while chapter which contained facts about depression, which I decided I did not need to include. I did, however, in other chapters, provide explanations when needed. I feel have have done my best and that that is what matters most.