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NOTES TO WRITERS MEMOIRS IN REVIEW. WHAT IS A MEMOIR? A memoir is written in first person from the author’s point of view. A memoir is non-fiction written.

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Presentation on theme: "NOTES TO WRITERS MEMOIRS IN REVIEW. WHAT IS A MEMOIR? A memoir is written in first person from the author’s point of view. A memoir is non-fiction written."— Presentation transcript:


2 WHAT IS A MEMOIR? A memoir is written in first person from the author’s point of view. A memoir is non-fiction written in story form like fiction. Dialogue can be included, but since few people can remember precisely every word spoken, the dialogue is often not literally true; instead the author attempts to recreate it as accurately as possible. Is a memoir non-fiction or fiction?

3 QUALITIES OF A MEMOIR Focus on a brief period of time or series of related events Narrative structure including many of the usual elements of story telling such as setting, plot development, imagery, conflict, characterization, foreshadowing, flashback, irony and symbolism It includes, or as a whole is, the writer’s contemplation of the meaning of events in retrospect Has a fictional quality even though the events are true Higher emotional level More personal reconstruction of the events and their impact

4 MEMOIR VS. AUTOBIOGRAPHY A memoir is a special kind of autobiography, usually involving a public portion of the author’s life as it relates to a person, historic event, or thing. The text is about the personal knowledge and/or experiences of the author. In contrast, an autobiography covers the author’s entire life to the present, and is expected to include details about his or her public and private life. A biography is someone’s life story written by another person.

5 MEMOIR: NON-FICTION OR FICTION? Obviously, a memoir should be true. The author should not alter the truth in telling his or her story. In fact, Elie Wiesel checked the text and made minor corrections in his book, Night, before it was published in the US to make it as truthful as possible. Memories are faulty, so a little leeway is given to authors of memoirs, but they are expected to be honest and to check their facts for accuracy. Creating fiction and passing it off as nonfiction, as apparently was done by James Frey in his controversial A Million Little Pieces, is completely unacceptable. A Million Little Pieces

6 IMPORTANT FEATURES OF A MEMOIR A memoir does not contain everything from this particular slice of the author’s life, but rather, events are selected and examined for meaning relative to the purpose of the book. The author has questioned what happened and come to some kind of new understanding or lesson learned by it. The author shows us how he or she was affected by this experience, how it has profoundly changed the way he sees the world. And by extension, reading the book will change the way the reader sees the world.



9 SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO WRITE A MEMOIR To write a memoir, begin by brainstorming on paper all the events you can remember from you life that were either very important to you in a positive way, or very important to you in a negative way. Talk to other members of your family to get ideas, help you remember events from before to help fill in the details that might have been forgotten. Select the event, or series of related events that will make this turn in to an interesting memoir. Work at this note-taking stage for a few days until you feel you’ve got it all down on paper.

10 SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO WRITE A MEMOIR CONT. Then begin to write. You will be surprised to see that even more details begin to appear once you start to write. For your first draft, write quickly to get all your ideas down from beginning to end. Don’t worry about editing. Before you revise, share your first draft with someone in the family. Consider their response but go with what feels right. Rewrite, and then start editing as needed. Note to remember while writing: Good memoirs are about every day things, but they are interesting like a good novel, only they must be true. Be careful not to exaggerate or embellish the truth.

11 SUGGESTIONS Dos: Show not tell Develop the setting Develop characters Use literal sentences with vivid detail and colorful verbs Write the way you speak but better Don’ts: List events with “I + verb” starts to each setting (I rode my bike… I went to the store… I then…) Write an introduction Use run-of-the-mill verbs Give a broad strokes overview of the events

12 SUGGESTIONS CONT. Do’s: Include both the unflattering and flattering Make it personal (if it’s hard to write about, you’re on the right track) Use dialogue to characterize someone or describe what your characters “do” to each other Don’ts: Chose to write about an event because it was a time when you were awesome. Use cliches Use common use phrases or idioms Repeat yourself

13 NOTES FROM THE PROFESSIONALS “Write your first draft with the door closed. Write the second draft with the door open.” –Stephen King “Memoirs can never be wholly true since they cannot include every conceivable circumstance of what happened. The novel can do that.” –Anthony Powell Remember: Your biggest stories will often have less to do with their subject than with their significance—not what you did in a certain situation, but how that situation affected you and shaped the person you became.


15 SOURCES memoir/ memoir/ nonfictionwhat-is-a-memoir-what-makes-a-memoir- different-from-an-autobiography-or-biography nonfictionwhat-is-a-memoir-what-makes-a-memoir- different-from-an-autobiography-or-biography

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