I love talking with people about their memoir! Each person has a different idea, audience, reason to write, and special message to impart. Each memoir is as unique as the person, each has its own fingerprint. The challenge is to get acquainted with the book-in-progress the way you learn about a new friend–by asking questions.
Here are some questions that can help you find the arc of your story and the reason to write it:
* Who is the audience for my book?
* What do I want them to learn about me and my message?
* How can my book give my audience something that they need?
* Do I want to find a larger publisher or do I prefer to self-publish?
If you know your audience–for instance, people who grew up in the 70s, then you will want to include details of that specific era the kinds of questions, family issues, social challenges that you had. You will include the clothing, sexuality, dating, food, drink, and drug details of that era, or if that wasn’t your world, show why and how yours was different.
When you think about what your audience needs, you are able to lift the story focus from being only on yourself to find the universality in your story–how it can speak to others and have meaning for them.
Considering, even early on, your publishing options helps you to make conscious and informed choices along the way. You might write a slightly different book for a larger publisher than if you were self-publishing to a smaller audience, for instance.
Asking these questions can guide you toward a focused book, and a successful one. Also, these questions help you get your book done faster, because your goals are clear.
Keep writing. Write every day, even for ten minutes. That’s the best way to finish your book. Celebrate a good writing day–and give yourself rewards!
Bonus Tip: Another way to create success is to understand the narrative arc. Here is a link to my blog article on WOW–Women on Writing. I address how to begin your memoir and create your narrative arc.
It’s so true: each memoir is completely unique, each with its own DNA. Part of the fascination of reading memoir is discovering both the individual experience and the shared one–when a memoir is well written. It’s good for writers to focus on the audience from the start–such a basic point, yet often missed in the internal process of writing a personal memory.
I strongly recommend to all memoirists your blog article on beginning a memoir in the WOW-Women on Writing April Newsletter. Again, you urge the writer to focus within and without, along with many other useful tips.
This is such a clear summary of what is needed when writing memoir. I think writing to your select audience is a crucial part of the process. When I write, I can see my readers. I had read somewhere that it is also effective to visualize a person across the table that you are writing for. Writing for one person can help you focus and have a more intimate conversation. Your blog article in the WOW-Women on Writing April newsletter really says it all. It is the most comprehensive memoir writing guide out there and I agree with Kate. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in writing memoir.
Thanks for all you do to guide us in our memoir journeys!