What is Memoir and How to Write it…

Writer Wednesday

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On Wednesday’s I like to share what I have learned along my writing, publishing and marketing journey. If you like the info please share it forward!

Writing Memoir

Some in the publishing business would have us believe that memoir is completely unsellable and   unless, you are famous with a global platform your book has no chance of making it into print and even less of a chance of making it onto a bookstore shelf.

Sophie Book arrived at B&N

I can tell you first hand that is flat out not true. If memoir doesn’t sell how would publishers explain the success of Elizabeth Gilberts’, Eat, Pray, Love or Jane Hawkings’, The Theory of Everything, Cheryl Strayes’, Wild and most recently the record breaking book sales and film opening for Chris Kyles’, American Sniper? These are just a few examples of recent memoirs that not only sold well but were made into major motion pictures that also sold well.

Theory of Everything

A memoir is based on a memory, something that happened that changed your life for the good or the bad. Memoir is completely different than an autobiography or a biography which are the stories of an entire lifetime.

Where do you start?

It would be a good idea to start by reading a bunch of memoirs. Pay attention to the writing style and the story structure.


When writing your memoir the best place to start is not at the beginning. If I were walking down the street and came upon your house just as your life changing event was happening and I looked in your window, what would I see? That is the place to start. You can add a bits and pieces of before and after story throughout.

Think about who will read this book.

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Why do you want to tell this story?
  • What do you want your reader to gain from your story?
  • Why are you the best person to tell this story?

An outline is a good way to plan your memoir. Start with the synopsis (think of the text on the back cover of the book. One page that tells the reader who, what, when, where and why and the beginning middle and end of your book. Then add a page for each chapter. When you are ready to start writing you can work on whichever chapter you would like.

Make a list of any research you need to do. I like to keep photos or items that remind me of the period in time I am writing about.

The memoir can be written in first person from the author’s point of view. It can also be told as Narrative nonfiction which is written like fiction-in story form.

There is little dialogue.

Your reader should learn something and their life should also be affected in some way by reading your story.

Memoirs should never be about revenge and should not be a book length rant.

They are between 90,000 and 100,000 words.

If you are writing nonfiction, you need to write the truth. Real names and places should be used unless using them will cause great harm. If you are planning on using fake names and places consider telling your story as fiction or fiction based on a true story instead of non-fiction.


Keep in mind if it happened to you, it is your story. You own your story and have every right to tell that story in your own way the way you remember it.

What are you waiting for, sit down and write!

Happy Writing,



Have you always wanted to write a book but have no idea where to start? I am a book coach and would be happy to offer you a free ½ hour consultation. For questions or to schedule your consultation:


What is a book coach?

A book coach is knowledgeable in all things writing, publishing and marketing. The most important thing your coach can offer is to provide you with the tools you need to feel confident and motivated to create the best and most successful manuscript possible, to make the best publishing decision and to guide you in making the most effective marketing choices for you and your book.

The services are affordable and packages are available from as little as one session to sessions throughout the entire process.

Ghostwriting services also available.









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