How to select the right words when telling your memoir
As a professional ghostwriter this is the biggest challenge to writing memoirs. It takes getting in the head of the author and letting the story flow from the source.
Award winning Novelsit
Memoirs: How to Touch Others With Your Words
By: Sandra Haven
Memoirs are great ways to related things to readers, for instance to inform, to educate, and to entertain them. These all address the value that any writing has to the reader. Writing, especially memoirs, can have another value -- one to the writer. A memoir can provide a powerfully cathartic value to the writer. As an editor since 1990, I've read many a memoir and I applaud writers for expressing the often confusing, occasionally ridiculous and sometimes amazing experiences that made up their lives. But I really admire those who take the heart-wrenching journey of writing about the dreadfully painful experiences that molded them into the people they are today. This is a valuable step in the writer's own healing.
Writing For Yourself -- Many writers are unable to finish something of this magnitude simply because of the pain involved. So anyone who completes a memoir should feel very proud of himself. And once written, the writer might consider the journey to be ended. Afterall, he has fulfilled the need: to get it out of himself, spilled onto paper, freeing himself from the solitary burden carried for so many years. And that is fine. No one needs to go further; once written, the memoir can be set aside, its duty done.
Writing for Others -- However, many memoir writers intend to publish their words for friends and family or to find a publisher to spread their story to a larger audience. That is another entire journey. Because then the manuscript must fulfill another need, one for the reader. So if you are writing a memoir and you want it to be read by others, you should ask yourself what you want the reader to take away.
Use the "Showing" Technique -- Most likely you want to share your life, to make what you experienced a valuable experience for the reader too. With this in mind, remember to avoid "telling" readers about your life. Every time you address the reader as "you" or tell us how to think, what to watch for, or how to respond, you are telling us we can't figure it out on our own. Readers will not respond favorably to this approach. They can even doubt your perceptions, wondering if they were, in fact, accurate.
Instead show your life. Let the experiences speak for themselves in the sensory descriptions and clear details that let the reader feel the sorrow or sense the joy in each incident. If we can see the way you were treated, then we feel we are there too, treated that same way. We know the experience is true because we feel it for ourselves. We'll experience what you experienced. The sharing will be complete.
Remember, memoirs are not just dates and names and facts lined up across your years. Let us experience the emotions you felt in sensory ways. Emotions are the most valuable tool any writer has. Show a strong emotion in one sentence and readers will understand with greater depth and impact than pages and pages of explanations ever would.
Memoirs are powerful tools to free the author's spirit and to add an extra dimension to the reader's life too!
About the Author
Sandra E. Haven has had her writing published in the U.S. and Europe--from short fiction to articles, mainstream to genre. Since 1990 she has provided editing services specializing in content, characterization, plot, tone and continuity. She deals in most fiction genres with an emphasis on mysteries, fantasies, and stories for children as well as memoirs. For more information see Bristol Editing Services.
(ArticlesBase SC #420708)