December 17, 2017

How to Craft the Beginning of Your Story

    As readers, we all have the experience of trying to find our bearings as we begin a story. To get “inside” the story that’s beginning, we readers are curious about who the main characters are, and we’re eager to learn about them—to learn why we are being told this story about these people. Early in a story, we’re getting grounded in where we are—literally—on the planet, in the world, and in the geography of place.  We need to know the time frame for the story, too. That’s the who, … [Read more...]

The PTT of Memoir—Positioning, Theme, and Takeaway

The PTT of memoir will help you think about three things you want to keep in your awareness as you write your memoir. A memoir has to be able to be positioned (if not by you then by your future marketing team—so you might as well do this heavy-lifting before you start shopping your work) in order to sell. Its themes and takeaways need to be clear for an editor and his or her Editorial Board to be sold on the idea that it will hold value and meaning for a reader. These three points are equally … [Read more...]

Top 10 Things All Memoir Writers Need To Pay Attention To

As Linda Joy Myers and I gear up to host some new fall classes and prepare for our next six-month course, I've been fully immersed in memoir land---one of my favorite places to be. If you can hold this list in your mind as you write your memoir, you'll have a leg up at least, and maybe even experience what we call "memoir magic." 1. Scope Knowing the scope of your story means knowing where it starts and where it ends. You don’t have to have a perfect sense of what comes in between, as long as … [Read more...]

What You’re Writing—Memoir vs. Autobiography

Three months after I published by book, What’s Your Book?, I went to lunch with an old friend who’s been in the publishing industry forever. When I asked him what he thought of my book, he responded that he liked it, it was good, but that he was puzzled about why I hadn’t included a definition of memoir. Good point. The truth was that I hadn’t considered it, in part because I never ask my clients to consider whether they’re writing memoir. If someone comes to me saying they’re writing a memoir, … [Read more...]

Dumping

A couple weeks ago I had an experience that prompted raw personal writing. It came out strong and visceral and angry and true. It scared me a little in its potency. It stared me in the face with its hard truths. It was 2500 words of intense, gritty, substantive stuff that poured out of me like molten lava. As a writer, this felt powerful and fierce and really good. I wanted to pat myself on the back. It was one of the best “pieces” I’d ever written. And I wrote it in a single session with … [Read more...]

What Makes Wild Special

Wild is everywhere these days, and so it’s no surprise that Cheryl Strayed keynoted at the San Miguel de Allende Writers’ Conference, which kicked off last night. And she was great. What strikes me most about Cheryl is her presence. She’s authentic and real. She is the character you meet and grow to care about in Wild. But Wild has become much bigger than Cheryl Strayed at this point. It’s one of those rare memoirs that has launched into the stratosphere and become the next big memoir that … [Read more...]

The Joy of Freewriting Scenes and Themes

  “All this plotting and planning makes me feel that I’m just using my left brain. I miss my freewriting!” said one of my students the other day. Yes, we all know that great feeling when we are in flow. It’s like a drug, and it’s also the feeling of being exactly in the center of our creative energy, which is one reason we love to write. But if we only freewrite, we end up with bunches of pages that have nowhere to live. We get lost in the middle of our story and don't know how to get out. … [Read more...]

The Narrative Voice

What’s wonderful about the decision to write memoir is the clear choice you face when deciding who’s going to narrate your book. It’s you! No need to weigh between first person and third person. You lived it and it’s your story. There is a decision to make, however, between the two narrative voices you have at your disposal when you dive in and start to write your scenes. These are what Sue William Silverman aptly calls the “Voice of Innocence” and the “Voice of Experience.” You make use of the … [Read more...]

Begin your Memoir by Mining Your Memories

  Writers often struggle with the issue of memory: do I have enough memories to write a memoir? Are my memories “correct?” Do I have a right to remember things the way I do even if people disagree with me. There’s no such thing as correct memory, Memory is about perception and interpretation. Everyone’s view of an event is like a slice of pie—each section looks toward the middle from a different angle. Everyone in a family would write a different memoir—if they dared! The first step in … [Read more...]

Writing in the Digital Age with Linda Joy and Brooke

On April 30, Linda Joy and Brooke offered this conversation to the NAMW community. Here we talk about writing in the digital age, complete with insights about how to stay on track, write fast and in flow, and ideas for building your platform by starting with a free or low-cost ebook. Enjoy! … [Read more...]