Posts tagged ‘stories’

February 25, 2013

Memoirs – They’re Not All About You

by limebirdvanessa

Have you ever thought of writing a memoir? Have you considered what theme it would have? If you’re anything like me then you won’t have given much thought to the theme – it will be a book about me and my life, that is the theme, right? Wrong. Well, wrong if you want to write something that people will actually want to read. A while ago, on my personal blog, I interviewed Lorna Lee about her newly published memoir, ‘How Was I Supposed to Know?’ and one of the things she said in the interview was “Memoirs need a theme like fiction needs a plot.”  That stayed with me, I thought about it a lot and realised how true it is. Would you buy a novel which was described as ‘The life of a character who has some quite interesting experiences.’? Of course you wouldn’t. You want a story, a plot, a point to it. And it’s the same with a memoir. Unless you are a big name celebrity, then it’s unlikely that anyone will want to read about your life without there being a great hook on which you hang your experiences.

People often use the words ‘memoir/s’ and ‘autobiography’ interchangeably, but there is a distinction. An autobiography tends to be a chronological account of somebody’s life, whereas a memoir can focus on just a short period of time, or a collection of selected experiences without the need to explain how one thing leads on from another. I would argue that even an autobiography needs a theme beyond just the person, but I’m going to focus specifically on memoirs for now.

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