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sommemi
08-31-2009, 05:31 PM
That's all - is formatting the same for non-fiction as it is for fiction? I just want to make sure there isn't something 'extra' I should be doing for a memoir that is different than a fiction novel. I want to get it straight before I'm too far into editing... Thanks!

ResearchGuy
08-31-2009, 05:48 PM
That's all - is formatting the same for non-fiction as it is for fiction? I just want to make sure there isn't something 'extra' I should be doing for a memoir that is different than a fiction novel. I want to get it straight before I'm too far into editing... Thanks!
Same.

BTW, FYI, avoid the redundancy "fiction novel." Never use that phrase around an agent or publisher. It will get your query rejected instantly. By definition, novels are fiction. (The phrase "nonfiction novel," which describes novels based closely on fact, a genre traced to Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, seems to confuse the issue. But "novel" by itself MEANS fiction.)

--Ken

sommemi
08-31-2009, 10:38 PM
Same.

BTW, FYI, avoid the redundancy "fiction novel." Never use that phrase around an agent or publisher. It will get your query rejected instantly. By definition, novels are fiction. (The phrase "nonfiction novel," which describes novels based closely on fact, a genre traced to Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, seems to confuse the issue. But "novel" by itself MEANS fiction.)

--Ken

:eek: oops.

Ok... Thank you!!! Good thing I asked.

Um.. so, if a 'novel' is assumed to be fiction, then I assume 'memoir' is the appropriate term for um... memoirs...? I really need to get better about my appropriate terminology. (It's been a LONG time since English class. eek.)

I guess I was just looking at info on formatting and saw the list of appropriate word lengths for writing and didn't see anything except 'novel' and wasn't sure what to call non-fiction writings in general. Thank you for the help! At least I know how to format now! :D

ResearchGuy
08-31-2009, 11:21 PM
. . . Um.. so, if a 'novel' is assumed to be fiction, then I assume 'memoir' is the appropriate term for um... memoirs...? . . . wasn't sure what to call non-fiction writings in general. Thank you for the help! At least I know how to format now! :D
Yep. A memoir (which shades into autobiography -- you might want to explore both of those terms) is a memoir. (The term "memoir" I believe allows more room for selectivity and for reliance on memory and reflection as opposed to documented facts, but I am not sure there is any clear dividing line.) "Memoirs," plural, is typically applied to the autobiograpy of a famous person.

Nonfiction in general is indeed nonfiction, but that covers a lot of territory, everything from history to how-to to technical manuals to science to . . .

Others might suggest other nuances, but I think those are reasonable generalizations.

--Ken

P.S. While I think of it, let me plug one of the great memoirs of our time: Kiyo's Story: A Japanese-American Family's Quest for the American Dream, by Kiyo Sato. That is the title of the 2009 Soho Press edition of an award-winning book originally published in 2007.

sommemi
09-01-2009, 12:49 AM
What about non-famous people? If it's a collection of stories... for example, "Grandad's stories from yesteryear" kinda thing? Not fiction, not an autobiography really, not famous...

Perhaps I should move this discussion to the memoir forum...

ResearchGuy
09-01-2009, 01:24 AM
What about non-famous people? If it's a collection of stories... for example, "Grandad's stories from yesteryear" kinda thing? Not fiction, not an autobiography really, not famous...

Perhaps I should move this discussion to the memoir forum...
I'd call that personal essays.

Note that memoirs (plural, but standing for a single large work) does have a special meaning, as a good dictionary will show. The singular "memoir" does not have that same meaning. I could write a memoir (not that anyone would have any interest in it), but it would be presumptuous to the point of grandiosity to style the book my "memoirs."

I guess that where things get more confusing is that if Grandad has collected several pieces, each of which is itself a memoir (personal recollection/narrative), then taken together they are memoirs -- but not in the sense of famous-person-memoirs.

My views. Others would be of interest. And yes, maybe this thread does belong in "memoirs" now.

--Ken

jclarkdawe
09-01-2009, 03:35 AM
One thing to warn you about down the road is that although a memoir is formatted the same as any other manuscript, its query is completely different from anything else.

Assuming you're not famous or anything like that, a memoir has to tell a story that is interesting to the reader, not just the writer. Its query does not resemble a nonfiction proposal, nor can it usually be sold on spec. Its query will read very much like a fiction query, except for it will be in first person. A lot more of it than a fiction query will be in past tense.

You might want to look at some of the queries in the query letter forum of share your work. Queries for memoirs are a lot harder to write than the author tends to envision. By looking at queries early, it will help you focus your book more, and help you think about composing your query as you're writing.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe