Ever felt that you had a story to tell? Have you ever thought: “One day I will write my story. But how do I start? What shall I tell about and what shall I not? How do I tell it? Do I tell it in the first person or in the third person? What is the purpose of me writing it? Is it for my own benefit only? Can others benefit from it? Who would read it? Who would be my audience?”
Well, these are typical questions that one would ask, and they are good questions. It is a good idea to answer them for first.
There are two ways one can approach this dilemma:
1. You can start writing your story without planning and see where it takes you; just flow with it. Don’t think too much. Just write what comes to your mind as if you were telling this story to a good friend; one story leads to another, and one story may remind you of something else etc.
2. Plan ahead. Determine what your purpose is for writing your memoir. Once you formulate your purpose you have some ground to start with and a direction. The next step is how you are going to achieve that purpose. If there is a message or messages you want the reader to have, then make sure you weave the messages you want to get across throughout your story.
Make a list of memories you want to share. You can list them in a chronological order if you choose to. Once you have the list, start writing about them one by one. Very important: don’t write about your whole life. Choose a period of time that was important to you and concentrate on it. Better you tell us more about the characters so we get to love them or hate them. You want to concentrate on a few main characters so the reader really gets to know them as well as you did. Don’t worry about your other stories. You can write another memoir about a different time period.
Don’t bother with how to the start and the end of the book. Just start writing and once you told your story, then tackle the “book ends” issue. The start and the end are a separate project.
It is good to create a mystery just from the start with added mysteries along the book.
Ensure each chapter has a start, middle and an end, and preferably each chapter should end with some kind of a cliffhanger–a hook.
The most successful action for me was to sit in my room uninterrupted and actually put myself AGAIN in the scene. Be that girl or boy you were, put yourself again in the same situation and try to recall more details, such as clothes, feelings, colors, smells, surroundings; be that child again. By doing it you first re-experience a memory… which is a lot of fun, whether it is joy or grief, you will benefit from it.
Second, you have a vivid picture that is easier to describe when you are IN the scene. Be like the actor that gets all engrossed with the character he portrays. Let yourself feel again, think again and describe in detail all that you experience. This way your writing will be vivid and the reader will be able to experience what you went through–that is the effect you want to create. A readerReaders that will laugh with you, cry with you, get angry with you, dream with you and get inspired by you.
Don’t criticize your writing. Just write! Put your stories in the drawer for a week or so and then re-read them and edit them if you see the need for it.
Read other books and memoirs; see what you like about them and adopt it. Read them from a viewpoint of a writer. Notice where you lose interest and see why, so you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Notice at which point you ceased reading as a writer, and what made it so gripping that you became a reader and forgot your writer’s hat.
I personally don’t like to read long chapters so I ensure mine are not too long, easy to read and make the reader curious to find out more.
Remember that you are unique and your story is unique. Believe in yourself and in your writing. Don’t get too many opinions and definitely, don’t listen to those who criticize you. Find a good friend that knows how to encourage you and push you along in achieving your goalspower.
Good Luck. Good writing!