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melaniehoo
09-13-2007, 12:20 AM
I'm working on a memoir about a specific time period in my life (now) and I'm not sure how much backstory to include. The story revolves around my life with my husband as we await his US visa: uprooting to Mexico, the death of his mother as soon as we arrived, culture shock, etc, as well as addressing the question of why I'm doing all this for him.

Backstory about us as a couple and how we got together is a given, my question pertains to my personal history, long before we knew each other. The story is told from my point of view and follows my growth as a person, so it seems logical that I include things from my past, but I'm worried about including too much and turning it into a memoir about my entire life.

I've tossed around the idea of writing another memoir about growing up, but that's not my purpose here & I'm trying to stay focused. The particular that I ran up against today is the following:

My parents split up when I was a baby. Now, as an adult, I question if I sometimes fight too hard for this relationship. I want to go into the backstory of my non-existent relationship with my father to demonstrate how I've grown to see his point of view, thus making smarter decisions now, blah blah, but how much is too much?

I tend to get sidetracked very easily (as you may have noticed if you've seen any of my comments here at AW) so I want to prevent myself from writing a memoir within a memoir if I can help it.

Thanks for your help and advice.
Melanie

jerrywaxler
09-13-2007, 01:39 AM
It sounds like you could keep the focus on your central story, and just insert the backstory in hints and flashbacks when you need it. Like maybe in a scene when you are "working too hard" on your current relationship you could talk it over with your sister or shrink, or walk outside and stare into the sky and call out to your father, or find an old journal entry and quote it in your present day story.

jennifer75
09-13-2007, 01:41 AM
I think you should glom up your backstory into one chapter and throw it in somewhere after say the first couple of chapters, so give people a feel for what you are mainly writing about then throw in the backstory but keep it short. Then hop back into "today". You know?

jennifer75
09-13-2007, 01:42 AM
It sounds like you could keep the focus on your central story, and just insert the backstory in hints and flashbacks when you need it. Like maybe in a scene when you are "working too hard" on your current relationship you could talk it over with your sister or shrink, or walk outside and stare into the sky and call out to your father, or find an old journal entry and quote it in your present day story.


I prefer to have it all together, that way when something is mentioned later I'll know the backstory and not have to think, "ok, but why...".

melaniehoo
09-13-2007, 02:26 AM
Right now, the first chapter is short, setting up the story, and the second is longer with 'our' backstory. I worry it's too much info crammed at the beginning, but it needs to be there so I can reference back and still make sense. (good point Jennifer)

I've been putting my personal anecdotes where they seem to fit, I'm just worried about doing it too much. I tend to tell stories that way so I'm writing as it flows naturally for me, but I also have friends who to stop me when I go TOO far off track & get back to the point.

Jerry, I was reading your website today which is what sparked this in me (the chracter arc) so that's interesting you've responded to my question. The idea to show how the character (me) grows throughout the whole process got me thinking about my real dad and how he plays a larger role in this than I thought. So thank you.

I like the advice of a phone call or shrink, but I'm down here in a bubble alone - that's how I ended up writing in the first place & why I spend so much time on AW.

Keep 'em coming!

Sohia Rose
09-23-2007, 08:22 AM
Why donít you weave the backstory in between actions or dialogue with some reflection? Something like: ďI looked into his eyes. I imagined thatís what my fatherís looked like. ÖĒ Then you can go into the story of how your parents broke up. Just donít forget where you left off with the action.

melaniehoo
09-23-2007, 07:48 PM
Why donít you weave the backstory in between actions or dialogue with some reflection? Something like: ďI looked into his eyes. I imagined thatís what my fatherís looked like. ÖĒ Then you can go into the story of how your parents broke up. Just donít forget where you left off with the action.

I think I will try to do that, and the parts that need to stay in the beginning I'll expand so they are their owns scenes. When I first started I was basically writing a summary of our history, not wanting to get too into all that, but now I think I should.