My new book, published January 2018.
Writing Memoir. How to Tell a Story from Your Life.
You can buy it on Amazon. [25th Jan 2018 - Hold that thought - I've currently had to suspend print book sales due to problems with the cover. These are being fixed and will be back for sale on Amazon very shortly. - meanwhile it is still available on Kindle - KDP - CLICK HERE]
Ten points to remember in the art of story telling
and narrative, in memoir writing.
1. A good plot and well-defined characters, brought to life by dialogue. Structuring a narrative is the most important thing you’ll do. There’s the narrative thread, unfolding story, for the whole book. Then chapter by chapter, building to climactic moments, creating dialogue and developing characters.
2. Emotional content Think about the emotional impact of what happened to you. You really want the reader to ‘get’ that, to be involved from the start. The emotional content for all the other characters involved comes next and how they interact with you and each other.
3. Starting point. Begin at a really interesting point in your story – a pivotal moment. The story should grip the reader from the opening sentence. Then work back, showing how the story got to that point..
4. Empathy with the narrator/protagonist – in memoir, that’s you. This is vital to keep up reader interest in carrying on reading so they really want to know what happens to you.
5. Mood changes – that’s not your mood, it’s the mood changes of the story. If you have something dramatic happen, which carries on for a few chapters until it’s resolved, maybe you need a chapter where everyone calms down, here and there.
6. How to end a chapter? Each chapter should end in such a way that the reader HAS to turn to the next page to find out what happened next. The links between chapters should flow smoothly.
When I wrote my first memoir, my editor told me. ‘It’s like a series of anecdotes’. So I went back and re-wrote beginnings and endings of chapters so it flowed more smoothly.
7. Your story is unique, whatever the genre. Build the reader's involvement slowly, take them down a few tangents. Don’t reveal it all straightway, so it's not clear where the story’s going. Keep some surprises for the end. Build the reader's anticipation.
8. Setting is important, culture, country, rural, urban. Your story will start/end in a specific place. Think about the place and how the characters move around the objects – it’s like writing a scene for a play.
9. Colour, sound smell. Make your references to these unusual and un-clichéd. Don’t for example refer to the sparkling turquoise sea, or the white glare of the sun. Try and think of unusual ways to say these things.
10.Endings: If you set up a puzzle or conundrum or mystery about what’s happening in your story, keep teasing the reader about how it’s going to end. The story should move towards some kind of resolution, some kind of satisfaction of the plot that ties together the whole story. You can do this just as well with memoir as with fiction.
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