Writers Write is your one-stop writing resource and in this post, I write about why the ‘how’ is the most important part of your memoir.
Because we are writing about true events that happened in the past, the endings to most memoirs are known. If we are writing the memoir, we have probably survived – at least long enough to write the book.
So, ‘what happens’ is not the most important part of your memoir. We already know as it is in the past. The most important part is all about ‘how it happened’.
If you are writing your memoir, you need to ask and answer the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, and ‘why’. And then you need to ask the ‘how’ and pay the most attention to this. This means you need to do a lot of showing along with the telling.
Writing about the ‘how’ means you need to:
- Show yourself as an empathetic character. Even if you are a drug addict or an abuser, we need to be able to empathise with you. Show us how and why you ended up this way.
- Identify a theme. Link the incidents of your book with a theme that shows your story.
- Create a timeline. Show how important events created the chronology of your story.
- Pay attention to your setting. Where you are impacts your story. If your reader can identify with, or understand, your environment you will create a vibrant story.
- Do the research. Keep a detailed record of the events you want to write about. Then, show the story by using events that happened in the wider world to anchor your story in time and space.
- Use your senses. Make the story real for readers by showing them how it sounded, looked, and smelled. Use tastes and textures to add layers to your story.
- Show yourself as a survivor. Even if you lose the fight, make sure that you tried. We love to read about people who fought the good fight and learned something along the way.
P.S. If you want to learn how to write a memoir, join our Secrets of a Memoirist course.
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