Great novels carry a book-length setup that demands a payoff in the end, plus chapter-length setups and payoffs, and sometimes even the same within scenes. The more of these the better. The same is true for your memoir.
Virtually anything that makes the reader stay with you to find out what happens is a setup that demands a payoff. Even something as seemingly innocuous as your saying that you hoped high school would deliver you from the torment of junior high makes the reader want to find out if that proved true. Avoid using narrative summary to give away too much information too early. To me, that just took the air out of the tension balloon, and many readers would agree and see no reason to read on. Better to set them up for a payoff and let them wait.
Not so long that you lose them to frustration, but long enough to build tension. Usually a person painted in a negative light—even if the story is true—would not sign a release allowing you to expose them publicly. Changing names to protect the guilty is not enough. Too many people in your family and social orbit will know the person, making your writing legally actionable. Change the location. Change the year. Change their gender. You could even change the offense. If your own father verbally abused you so painfully when you were thirteen that you still suffer from the memory decades later, attribute it to a teacher and have it happen at an entirely different age.
Is that lying in a nonfiction book? Thoroughly immerse yourself this genre before attempting to write in it. I read nearly 50 memoirs before I wrote mine Writing for the Soul.
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Are you working on your memoir or planning to? Do you have any questions on how to write a memoir? Share with me in the comments below. Before you go, be sure to grab my FREE guide:.
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Stay with me. Maybe you came from: The wrong side of the tracks A broken home Having been a victim of abuse Addiction An orphanage To a position of: Wealth Status Happiness Health Faith You might start with memories that show how bad things once were for you. Want to save this guide to read, save, or print whenever you wish?
Click here. What happened to me can also happen to you. Cosmic Commonalities All people, regardless of age, ethnicity, location, and social status, share certain felt needs: food, shelter, and love.
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Knowing or understanding or relating to nothing else about her, I understand love of family. Worried About Uniqueness? Step 2. Step 3. Example: Telling My father was a drunk who abused my mother and me. Showing As soon as I heard the gravel crunch beneath the tires and the car door open and shut, I dove under my bed.
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Character Arc As in a novel, how the protagonist in this case, you grows is critical to a successful story. Point of View It should go without saying that you write a memoir in the first-person. Setups and Payoffs Great novels carry a book-length setup that demands a payoff in the end, plus chapter-length setups and payoffs, and sometimes even the same within scenes.
Step 4. If you tell the truth, are you allowed to throw them under the bus?
In some cases, yes. But should you? But even if they did, would it be the right, ethical, kind thing to do? So, What to Do? So change more than the name.
Common Memoir Mistakes to Avoid Making it too much like an autobiography missing a theme Including minutiae Bragging Glossing over the truth Preaching Effecting the wrong tone : funny, sarcastic, condescending How to Start Your Memoir Your goal is to hook your reader, so begin in medias res —in the middle of things.
If you start slowly, you lose readers interest. Jump right into the story! The Book Group. Ethan Bassoff. Faye Bender. Soumeya Bendimerad Roberts. Hannigan Salky Getzler Agency. Tina Bennett. Amy Berkower. Writers House LLC.
Vicky Bijur. Vicky Bijur Literary Agency. Brettne Bloom. Courtney Sullivan.
Georges Borchardt. Representative Authors: T.
19 Top Literary Agents for Memoirs
Sarah Bowlin. Aevitas Creative Management. Paul Bresnick. Bresnick Weil Literary Agency. Interested in Representing: Fiction , Nonfiction. Sarah Burnes. The Gernert Company. Chris Calhoun. Chris Calhoun Agency. Tess Callero.