Telling a story

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gettingby

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I am taking a memoir class where we will be writing several personal essays and memoir pieces. We have been given a writing prompt for the first one. I realize there are two places I am struggling. The first is how to tell a whole mini-memoir in three pages. I have two and a half pages and it just doesn't read so much like a story as it does a reflection. My other problem is the ending. I don't want to just some up what I've said or state something obvious that the reader already gets from reading my piece. I think my problems with the ending relate back to my problems with not really having a story line. How do you guys work through problems like this? Any tips?
 

Ketzel

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When I have a problem with my writing, I go and read what others have written in my genre, and see how they handled the problem I am dealing with. Then I do my best to extrapolate the techniques they used in a way that works for what I am trying to do.
 

Fruitbat

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I haven't written a memoir, so fwiw. Isn't a memoir a series of reflections, by definition? I think I'd break it down a bit. Just get a draft of the assignment down on paper first, then worry about the rest. You can often come up with a cute line at the end or else look to the beginning and see if you can find some small way to give it a feel of coming full circle and being complete. But that's just the little bow to tie at the end, no biggie.

If you mean you're supposed to do an overview of your whole life story rather than one piece of it, maybe start by thinking of the major events of your life, pencil those in as a kind of outline, and fill out proportionally from there so you can do it in three pages. Good luck!

P.S. Good idea Ketzel has too, of using other memoirs you like for reference.
 
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Siri Kirpal

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As implied by Fruitbat, memoirs are only slices of life--sometimes thick slices, sometimes small ones--they aren't the whole enchilada; that's an autobiography. If the prompt requires you to encapsulate your whole life, then pick some thread that runs through it. Otherwise, pick just a section.

Also as indicated, often the ending comes with writing. You could also spend a few minutes meditating on the meaning of the events you're relating and focus your writing so that it ends with something that brings that meaning out subtly.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

gettingby

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It's not writing a life story. And I don't think most (if any) memoirs are ever that. I guess I am just wondering about the framework and how people approach that in their memoir pieces, especially short pieces. Thanks for the responses.
 

Siri Kirpal

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Two good books on the topic are Tristine Rainer's Your Life as Story and Bill Roorbach's Writing Life Stories.

Basically, you look at your life and pick an event or sequence of events with a story feel to them. Then you write, usually the details of your life the same way you would use made up details in a novel.

Hope that helps.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

Gringa

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I'm not really clear on what you're asking...
 
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