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The time I…

Memoirs. A slice of life. A time. When something happened to you that can help ease someone else’s struggle; that’s a memoir. It is not the journey of your life but rather the journey of something you survived, held a particular meaning to you or was life changing. It is a part of your story that you feel needs to be told. Perhaps as healing for you. Perhaps to help others. Perhaps because it is just that powerful.

I will lay out some guidelines today and then break them down in the coming weeks.

First decide on your subject matter or theme:

  • Subject Matter: this can include stories of surviving trauma, living in prison and/or rallying for rights.

  • Theme: this can include stories of addiction, identity and/or parent-child relationships.

Throughout your writing, ask yourself two questions:

  1. How does this scene relate to my theme or subject matter?

  2. What sense am I trying to make of my story through writing this scene?

There are 7 keys points in writing a memoir:

  1. Narrow your focus.

  2. Include more than just your story.

  3. Tell the truth.

  4. Put your readers in your shoes.

  5. Employ elements of fiction to bring your story to life.

  6. Create an emotional journey.

  7. Showcase your personal growth.

Sounds simple, right? Well, it is; sorta. I mean, afterall, it’s your life and who knows it better than you? Ok, let’s start breaking all this down.

First, what’s the difference between a subject matter and a theme? The subject matter is what the story is about. The theme is the inferred stance on the central topic or message of the story. Huh? Ok, here’s an example: Love may be the subject matter, but learning to love yourself would be the theme. Better? They don’t always have to go together. Say surviving trauma is your subject matter. You may not have a theme since there are so many obstacles to maneuver around on your journey to surviving trauma. Now it is possible you have a sub-theme, but we will skip that for now.

On the flip side, a theme will always have a subject matter. Basic English rules come into play here. Say your theme is addiction. Your subject matter would be your addiction, your family’s addiction and/or the effects the addiction had on your life’s journey. Make sense? I hope so, but you know how to find me if you have questions.

Next week: Breaking down those two pesky questions

Until then…

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