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Coco82
02-23-2005, 09:25 PM
What I mean is who's to tell one life is more interesting than another? What elements make a good memoir/autobio?

muscort
02-24-2005, 07:32 PM
I believe you have lived long enough to have many stories. I am 31 now and have noticed that every single human has interesting things that have happened in their life. Most of the important things that happened in my life finished happening by the time I was about 24, so you have had much experience. If I could have a conversation with you I could probably pull out many stories because I ask too many questions.

Erik

stormie
03-05-2005, 12:48 AM
Muscort:
Most of the important things that happened in my life finished happening by the time I was about 24....

I thought so, too, when I was in my 30's. Then I hit 40. Bingo, life sure started getting very interesting!

Everyone has an interesting life. It's your take on what happens and how you approach it in your writing. A good book to read is Frank McCourt's autobiography Angela's Ashes. He could have written just the day to day drudgery of growing up poor with an alcholoic father, but he looks at it from a different angle and it makes for an uplifting and interesting read.

muscort
03-05-2005, 08:53 AM
Yes, Stormie. You have added where I left off. It's just hard to get my total point across in a short paragraph. I don't want to ramble.

I wasn't saying nothing exciting happens after 30, I just think a person who has made it 20 years on earth probably has more to write about than they think they do. I like helping people unlock the stories that are inside.

Coco82
03-07-2005, 01:17 AM
Thanks for the input. I really am thinking more seriously about writing my story now in some form. Thanks again.

firehorse
03-20-2005, 06:04 AM
Any story is good enough to tell; it's finding an angle on it or telling it in a compelling way. I struggle with this constantly.

I just finished a full-length memoir; I hired a freelance book editor to read it, and I'm waiting for her verdict. I'm very nervous. I know the story is inherently interesting; I'm just afraid I didn't tell it well enough.

My whole life has been a series of strange events, all fodder for my writing. Yet now, I look back and I can't find a single interesting thing to write about. But a good writer can take the process of drinking a glass of orange juice and make it interesting. (Not sure I could!)

I think there's something in Jenna's Freelancer book about this, but I don't recall exactly where. It's a great example of one person writing about something very mundane, but in a humorous way.

My primary goal is to get to the emotional truth of any experience, so that no matter how particular it is to my life, it will (I hope) resonate with others. Thus the signature I've chosen ;)

-Sarah

MacAllister
03-25-2005, 08:46 PM
ahhhhh--but this observation:
Neither the category, the premise nor the title can predict artistic success or failure. It's all in the writing. Means the outlook for your book should be pretty good, Sarah. :)

firehorse
03-25-2005, 10:03 PM
Means the outlook for your book should be pretty good, Sarah. :) Awwww.... http://pages.prodigy.net/rogerlori1/emoticons/blush4.gif

From your keyboard to publishers' ears! Thanks, Mac.

ShadowGuide
03-29-2005, 05:20 AM
What I mean is who's to tell one life is more interesting than another? What elements make a good memoir/autobio?

As a relatively new but reasonably experienced professional (oral) storyteller, I'd have to say any tale that has sufficient suspense and payoff. Of course, that means people need to find a way to identify with the characters in your tale and then they'll go through the story "with" them instead of fighting the events. Look for universal themes and emotions. Don't necessarily tell them to your readers/audience, but keep them in mind as you tell your tale. I know it makes all the difference in the oral form.

KTC
04-05-2005, 03:28 PM
What I mean is who's to tell one life is more interesting than another? What elements make a good memoir/autobio?


One that you will want to read yourself.

Bout2givUp
04-25-2005, 11:37 AM
Since life can be short,and death very long I believe everyone's story is worthy to be told.

Everyone has something to tell.
Something surely far more memorable than a cemetary stone so cold.

Another story of course is whether it will sell.

Somewhat sad you,your parents or others you love their stories simplistic yet interesting in that it was their unique life now reduced to the cash register bell.


:Soapbox

firehorse
04-26-2005, 10:08 AM
The key is finding an element in your experience that is universal. Not everyone may have stolen cars as a teenager, for example, but most of us can relate to rebellion or, even more widely, desperately needing money/excitement/escape.

I used to have as my sig line: "A poet should address the specific, and if there be anything about him, he will articulate the universal as well."

Every experience is a possible story; it's the telling that makes it fascinating or dull.

I think I'm repeating myself from earlier in this thread, but I've found that the most personal, most embarrassing details are the ones people can relate to the most.

One story I tried to write had - I thought - a good premise: I had an ear infection that blew out my eardrums; I lost my hearing for a month, gained permanent tinnitus and wasn't sure I'd ever hear again. I did a stand-up routine about it, and I tried to turn it into an essay, but I forgot that basic element: be emotionally specific. This isn't an experience many people have (thank God!). But it does include universal themes of isolation, fear, loneliness.

Hmm... maybe I'll try writing it again... :)

gogoshire
05-09-2005, 04:18 AM
That's so true. It isn't the experience itself; it's the universal theme.

Last week I taught Orwell's essay "Shooting an Elephant" in my freshman comp class. They all liked it, but they were having a hard time saying why. I asked if anyone had ever been on safari before and shot an elephant. No hands went up. I then asked if anyone ever did something they weren't very proud of, but they did it because everyone around them was goading them on.

Every hand in the room went up.

eldragon
05-09-2005, 05:00 AM
Take it from someone who reads alot, and only non-fiction.......everyone has an interesting story to tell. How its written will make it worth reading.

I have read memoirs of bricklayers, that were page turners. I have read about so many different professions, and I'll always choose memoirs. I want to read about your life. You are a supermarket checker? Fabulous! You're a taxi driver? Wow! I'll bet you had alot of interesting things happen to you.

It doesn't have to be your job......it can be your passion, or hobby. You love Poodles......dont' just write about poodles ......tell me about what its like to live with and raise poodles, what its like to show them.

The book shelves are loaded with sports related memoirs, I pretty much draw the line at those (not interested, unless there is a real twist). A mountain climber? I'll read it. A sailor lost at sea? You betcha! I don't go for celebrity bio's either, but everyone else does.....so if you are a celebrity or grew up with one in your family .....write about it!

But you don't have to have anything traumatic to tell........just tell it so its interesting. I'll read it.

firehorse
05-09-2005, 05:23 AM
I have read memoirs of bricklayers, that were page turners. I have read about so many different professions, and I'll always choose memoirs. I want to read about your life. You are a supermarket checker? Fabulous! You're a taxi driver? Wow! I'll bet you had alot of interesting things happen to you.Have you (all of you, not just eldragon) read Studs Turkel's Working? I don't think he even revised; he just edited and put together hundreds of interviews he'd done with people in various occupations at all levels. Every single one had fascinating stories.

It's all in the telling.

eldragon
05-09-2005, 05:29 AM
No, I'll put it on my list.

I loved Nickel and Dimed - can't remember the author off the top of my head but she's plenty famous - an excellent book about trying to survive on min wage jobs.


Funny and sad - one the best books ever.

gogoshire
05-09-2005, 01:52 PM
I just finished Augustin Burrough's "Magical Thinking."

Not as good as "Running with Scissors" (his first memoir), but still interesting.