What do you recommend to writers who are working on memoirs? I’ve been putting down ideas for some time but feel like I don’t know how to continue.
Dear Neophyte Writer,
1. Read a bunch of memoirs.
Read them not just as a reader but as a writer. Pay attention to the variety of ways these writers linger on the most important moments, dig into scenes, reflect, move from chapter to chapter, and organize their stories. You’ll see there are so many ways to do these things. Books are your best teachers. Here are a few of my favorites:
Find the juiciest moments, the most important scenarios, the meatiest stories–and dig into them. Linger in them, and write and write. Develop full scenes with sensory detail. Help us feel like we are there. Riff on connections to other memories, thoughts, reflections, feelings, mixed feelings, desires. Memoir is a rich combination of scene and reflection. Help us see the locations and people keenly,so we can experience your life through your eyes. Also, whenever there’s an important moment coming, build up to it; develop the tension and conflict fully. USE the books above to pay close attention to how all these writers do these things.
3. Consider joining a writing group, or create one of your own.
I’m part of a writing group that meets once a month. We share pages we’re working on, giving each other critical feedback and support.