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Shwebb
06-25-2007, 07:31 AM
I was wondering if anyone interested in memoir writing has found a book or books about the process. I've bought a few books to help with the process, but I'm finding they don't really help with the focus of my memoir writing.

brutus
06-25-2007, 03:36 PM
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Sakamonda
06-25-2007, 05:57 PM
The best way to learn how to write memoir is to read memoirs. The process of writing narrative nonfiction is much like the process of fiction (except the story is true) so some fiction how-to books can be helpful as well.

Shwebb
06-25-2007, 08:38 PM
I'm sorry--I probably didn't make myself clear.

Having read a great deal of memoir and biography (and enough of both to see the difference) and starting on my own memoirs, I was wondering if anyone has found a book they felt was an inspiration. I guess it doesn't have to be a how-to book, it could be an actual memoir. There are books out there on memoir writing, but so far, I haven't found one that resonates with me.

As for William Zinsser, I have his book On Writing Well. Love it.

brutus
06-25-2007, 11:41 PM
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johnrobison
06-26-2007, 05:34 AM
How can we say what books may be inspirational to you?

If we knew, and we agreed, the market would be fully satisfied with a few dozen titles!

If I may, I'll offer a serious suggestion. Go to Publisher's Weekly. Look online with a subscription, or look in your library. Look at their "year in bestsellers" issues for the past three years. Pick out the best selling memoir titles and study them. What do you see?

In the context of today's market, those are the dozen writers who "got it all right" in terms of public acceptance.

jerrywaxler
07-13-2007, 05:17 AM
I've written a step by step workbook on how to write your memoir. While other books give lots of examples, this book gives detailed instructions. Check it out at http://www.mental-health-survival-guide.com/memoir-book-how-to.htm. (http://www.mental-health-survival-guide.com/memoir-book-how-to.htm)

I also offer lots of advice for memoir writing on my blog, http://www.memorywritersnetwork.com/blog.

Let me know what you think or if I can answer any questions.

Best wishes,
Jerry Waxler

Susan B
07-16-2007, 09:28 PM
I've written a step by step workbook on how to write your memoir. While other books give lots of examples, this book gives detailed instructions. Check it out at http://www.mental-health-survival-guide.com/memoir-book-how-to.htm. (http://www.mental-health-survival-guide.com/memoir-book-how-to.htm)

I also offer lots of advice for memoir writing on my blog, http://www.memorywritersnetwork.com/blog.

Let me know what you think or if I can answer any questions.

Best wishes,
Jerry Waxler

Interesting, liked your plug for the man teaching storytelling (can't recall his name) at the Augusta Heritage Arts Center in WV this summer. I have gone there on and off for years, for folk music workshops. A great place!

I really liked what you shared about his idea of needing to break out of "code." I agree it brilliantly captures one of the big problems for writers of memoir who want to reach people beyond the "inner circle" (family/members of one's own little group) who already "get" it. Telling yarns about "Uncle Bob" or mentioning a Beatles' song (your own example) in the hope it will evoke a whole era--well, that's not enough. It is something I have struggled with, because so much of my memoir revolves around a fairly esoteric music world, with a lot of shared assumptions and understandings. But to rely on that, without making it come alive for someone who is not part of that world--well, it's like writing a travel diary rather than a true memoir.

Susan

IrishScribbler
07-16-2007, 09:39 PM
The Gift of Stories: Practical and Spriritual Applications of Autobiography, Life Stories, and Personal Mythmaking by Robert Atkinson

Memoirista
08-11-2007, 03:50 AM
The book that got me started down the memoir road (made of yellow brick) is Story Structure Architect: A Writer's Guide to Building Dramatic Situations & Compelling Characters. It was in placing my basic story into the fairly abstract structures and situations and potential resolutions that I could see the important story elements, and start writing. I love Zinsser, and there is Barrington's Writing the Memoir to cherish, and then after panning Vivian Gornick's memoir I picked up the book she wrote about writing memoir, and found it enchanting.

I didn't know when I read Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes, by Shoba Narayan, that there is a subgenre of memoir that mixes life and food. Narayan is a master, with a life filled with contrast and change, held together by her love for South Asian food. Somehow I don't yet want to read another Life plus Recipes memoir!

Monsoon Diary has already made it into The Reviews at Memoirista.com, as has Vivian Gornick's own memoir. Zinsser and Gornick and Barrington--not quite yet.

jennifer75
08-14-2007, 09:58 PM
I was wondering if anyone interested in memoir writing has found a book or books about the process. I've bought a few books to help with the process, but I'm finding they don't really help with the focus of my memoir writing.

I haven't really looked for these books, but I've been told that if I want to write a memoir, I should be reading memoirs. So I've purchased a few, read one, started another. It helps to see how others write. It made me rethink some things.

jennifer75
08-14-2007, 10:01 PM
Check out "Writing About Your Life" (Zinnsser) Also great.
The Liars Club and Angela's Ashes are inspiring as are The Tender bar and The Glass Castle.
Then, there's always "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" By David Eggers.
The best thing to do (IMHO) is sit down and write an outline. After that you can take each section of the outline and start fleshing it out.
One of Zinnssers books has an interview with Frank McCourt. He says that he made piles of notes on slips of paper for twenty years or so before he got started. He also had a couple of false starts due to the usual fears about style and voice.

The Liars Club is the "one I started..." but I can't get into it. I guess it's just not the time. Soon I'm hoping.

I did read The Only Girl In the Car and I was thrilled to see a similar story/experience unfolding and it gave me some insight on how my story might be better written.

awatkins
08-14-2007, 10:13 PM
Here are a couple of how-to titles from my bookshelf:

Writing from Personal Experience, How to Turn Your Life into Salable Prose by Nancy Davidoff Kelton

and

Writing from Life, Telling Your Life Story by Susan Wittig Albert, Ph.D.

These are both rather like workbooks, with lots of true anecdotes and examples (the first book also has tons of writing exercises).

Shwebb
08-14-2007, 10:15 PM
My library is going to be getting a lot of visits from me!

I love reading memoir. Problem is that I get so involved in what I'm reading that I forget to take a step back and see how they are doing it. Whoops!

awatkins
08-14-2007, 10:29 PM
I love reading memoirs, too. I can't figure out if it's because the stories are so fascinating, or if I'm just a big old nosy rosy who wants to peek into windows.

Nah, it's the first one. ;)

Susan B
08-15-2007, 06:27 PM
The best way to learn how to write memoir is to read memoirs. The process of writing narrative nonfiction is much like the process of fiction (except the story is true) so some fiction how-to books can be helpful as well.

Very good point!

I am just finishing a great fiction how-to book. You could easily pass it up if you are writing memoir, because it is ostensibly about writing mystery and suspense novels. (Which is why I'm reading it now.) But it could be very valuable in writing memoir, particularly when the author presents a model for plotting that incorporates "The Hero's Journey."

The book is by Carolyn Wheat. "How to Write Killer Fiction."

Susan

Shwebb
08-18-2007, 10:55 AM
I heard this author, Francine Prose, being interviewed on the "Bob Edward Show on NPR talking about her book called:

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them

Looks potentially like the book could be helpful in writing memoir, as well.

Here is the link (http://www.amazon.com/Reading-Like-Writer-Guide-People/dp/0060777044/ref=sr_1_2/102-8815341-3100923?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1187390293&sr=1-2) to Amazon.com about the book.

rnning2wn
09-07-2007, 01:17 AM
I realize I'm late in getting this answer to you, but I remembered your question and then today found one. It's called, Learn To Write Your Memoir in 4 wks. by Jerry Waxler. If you found one you discovered thru this thread, would you let us know? Thx and hope your writing is going well!
________
LOL - Jerry Waxler already pitched his writing (see above)! How odd is THAT?! Well, I'm all for ya Jerry - good work! For you, redundancy is a good thing :Hug2:

jennifer75
09-07-2007, 01:28 AM
http://www.jerrywaxler.com/

rnning2wn
09-07-2007, 01:31 AM
YES and http://www.memorywritersnetwork.com/!

johnrobison
09-07-2007, 06:22 AM
I suggested reading other memoirs to learn by example. But more and more, what I think makes a book that sells is storytelling ability. To that end, if you want to be able to write books, learn to tell stories.

Learn to tell people stories in different settings, then teach yourself to render those stories on paper.

A successful memoir is often a series of those stories woven into the tapestry of someone's life, in a way that teaches the reader something important.

rnning2wn
10-12-2007, 02:33 AM
I'm sorry--I probably didn't make myself clear.

Having read a great deal of memoir and biography (and enough of both to see the difference) and starting on my own memoirs, I was wondering if anyone has found a book they felt was an inspiration. I guess it doesn't have to be a how-to book, it could be an actual memoir. There are books out there on memoir writing, but so far, I haven't found one that resonates with me.

As for William Zinsser, I have his book On Writing Well. Love it.

Just bought On Writing Well - Your "love it" comment sold me....oh, and your humbling mod squad title :Hail:

Newport2Newport
10-12-2007, 07:00 PM
I especially like Your Life as Story, by Tristine Rainer. But John makes a great point -- it's really helpful to read a wide range of best-selling memoir. The best way to learn, I think, is by example.