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Mastering the Memoir

Mastering the Memoir

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Mastering the Memoir

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  1. Mastering the Memoir

  2. A memoir • is a piece of autobiographical writing • tends to be shorter in nature • 500 to 1,000 words • tries to capture a certain highlight or meaningful moment of one’s past • includes contemplation of the meaning of the event at the time of writing

  3. Characteristics of a Memoir • focuses on brief period of time • narrative structure including elements of storytelling • setting, plot development, imagery, conflict, characterization, foreshadowing, flashback, irony, etc. • includes writer’s contemplation of the meaning of event • fictional quality though true • higher emotional level • personal reconstruction of the event and its impact

  4. Characteristics continued….. • explores an event that remains lodged in the memory • describes the event and shows why the even is significant…why it’s remembered • usually centers on a problem or focuses on a conflict and its resolution and the understanding of why the resolution is significant in the writer’s life

  5. Mastering the Memoir ~adapted from The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith

  6. *Write with intent: don’t wait for the movie of your life; get those extraordinary moments in writing!

  7. *Stake out your territory: stick to one story; don’t go beyond your borders

  8. *Write what you know: YOU are the expert on your own life

  9. *Go small: Show don’t tell!!! Instead of telling “I have been so _____ since _______” SHOW through describing a scene where emotions /feelings/ thoughts are clear to and shared by reader

  10. *”What is this about?”: Try this…”This is a story about ________ as illustrated by ________ to be told in a memoir”……keep repeating as planning & drafting…every sentence should drive the piece forward

  11. ***”You don’t have to cure a disease, but you do have to come to some different place…You have to move from one small way you look at the world to another.”

  12. Writing/Evaluation Guidelines • lead invites reader into the world of memory • reader can imagine the where and when the memory takes place--physical and state of being setting • strong, powerful voice • combo of telling a story and writer’s insight • action and sensory details evident • message in the writing—reader gets a feel for why memoir written