Tag Archives: Writing A Memoir

The Craft of Memoir – Write Like a Novelist

NAMW August Member Teleseminar–Marcia Butler

August 18, 2017

11 AM PDT   12 PM MDT  1 PM CDT  2 PM EDT

One of the greatest compliments I received when my memoir was published was hearing from reviewers and readers alike that my book “read like a novel.”  Most memoirs have a gripping tale to tell, which is vital not only from a publisher’s standpoint, but also for the expectation of the devoted reader of this form. Yet, skillful and nuanced storytelling must be a goal not only of the novelist but of memoirists as well.

After all, there is only one difference between fiction and memoir. In the case of a novel the plot is made up. But the memoirist knows the story and all the characters. We know how the protagonist will succeed and fail; who lives and who dies. The memoirist is in full command of thoughts, feelings, memories, the beginning and the ending. Novelists make their decisions throughout the writing process, tossing out characters and plot threads that don’t serve the narrative.

But memoirists know the stakes from the very beginning and it is our job to tell our story with compassion, craft and intelligence. We must keep the reader turning the pages, eager to see what happens next by pacing the action, by writing believable dialogue and by creating chapters that satisfy as a whole. Just like a great novel.

In my teleseminar, I’ll show you how to tell your life story with the skill and nuance of a novelist.

  • Build your world view
  • The process of selecting scenes for inclusion – must we tell everything?
  • How to make a distant yet important memory come to life
  • Short lens and long lens as a way to create depth and space in a scene
  • Writing from anger and grief – keep this in check and remain be a believable character/writer
  • Craft dials apply to memoir too – use the senses
  • Some characters do not warrant page space – choose carefully
  • Know what your story (plot) is – life is big but a book can contain only so much
  • How to get your character “across the room” – tools to elide gaps in time or compress time

 

Marcia Butler Short Bio:

Marcia Butler is the debut author of the nationally acclaimed memoir, The Skin Above My Knee. She was a professional oboist for twenty-five years until her retirement in 2008. During her musical career, she performed as a principal oboist and soloist on the most renowned of New York and international stages, with many high-profile musicians and orchestras – including pianist Andre Watts, and composer and pianist Keith Jarrett. Marcia was a 2015 recipient of a Writer-in-Residence through Aspen Words and the Catto Shaw Foundation. Her work has been published in Literary Hub, PANK Magazine, Psychology Today Magazine, The Aspen Institute, BioStories and others. She has written a novel which is currently out for sale to publishers. Marcia lives in New York City.

 

FREE WEBINAR

June 30, 2016

4 PM PDT/7 PM EDT

Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers

Scene: The Master Tool of Memoir Writing

Brooke and Linda Joy

In this free hour-long webinar, Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers are tackling the single-most important element of craft you need to master to write good memoir: scene. Anyone who reads and loves memoir knows that scenes are what makes your story come alive. But it goes deeper than that. Good scene writing can change your and your readers’ lives. How you write your memoir, with scenes that reach out and invite your reader to experience what you lived through, is the root of transformation, and the ticket to creating a work that resonates and stays with your reader, and that agents and editors will see as sellable.

  • The key elements that make scenes come alive.
  • Narration in scene and how and when to use it.
  • The single most powerful gift you can give yourself when you’re writing scenes.
  • How to track the arc of your scenes so you see the beginning, middle, and end.
  • Transitions and how they connect your scenes together.

Sign up here for this free webinar on writing scenes—the most important tool in your writing toolbox.

http://writeyourbookinsixmonths.com/scene-free-webinar

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

 

You’ve Written Your Memoir—Now What? | Steps on the Path to Publishing

Sam Barry

Member Teleseminar

February 21 2014 with Sam Barry

11 AM PST   12 PM MST   1 PM  CST  2 PM EST

 

With the publishing world changing every day, your head must be spinning with the choices you have to make. You ask, “Should I find an agent or should I self-publish? How do I know when my manuscript is ready? What are the best publishing choices for my book and theme?”

 

Sam Barry, director of the Book Passage Path to Publishing Program, is our guest for this member teleseminar. We will talk about what you need to know in 2014 to get your book from manuscript to finished book—up-to-date information about the publishing industry and how you can make informed choices.

 

Join us for an all-you-need-to-know conversation.

 

  1. Why you need an editor.
  2. Hiring a mentor or coach—what you need to know.
  3. What’s next: traditional publishing, alternative publishing, or self-publishing?
  4. Finding an agent and selling your manuscript
  5. What you need to know about book design and production
  6. Marketing, publicity, and distribution

 

Sam Barry heads the Path to Publishing Program at Book Passage. He is editor of and a contributor to “Hard Listening: The Greatest Rock Band Ever (of Authors) Tells All ” by the Rock Bottom Remainders. He is the author of How to Play the Harmonica and Other Life Lessons and co-author of Write That Book Already! The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now. You can find Sam on Facebook and on Twitter @sambarry.

 

http://www.bookpassage.com/path-publishing

http://redroom.com/member/sam-barry

 

 

How to Write a Memoir about a Subculture that Connects with the Mainstream Culture | Free Roundtable August 8, 2013 – 4 PM

Shirley ShowalterAugust 8, 2013

Free Roundtable Discussion

4 PM PDT   5 PM MDT   6 PM CDT   7 PM EDT

Shirley Showalter

This presentation offers concrete examples of how to tell stories so readers unfamiliar with the place, culture, or group will not only learn about “the other,” but will identify with people different from themselves. All writers need to do this—it’s called the “universal message, and goes beyond subgroups to the universality of human experience.

For example, women need to write so men can understand and enjoy their world views. Different generations and races need to reach across time and connect. At the heart of all great writing lies the often-repeated truism: the route to the universal is through the particular. But how do we learn to connect the two?

For Shirley Hershey Showalter, our guest today, the challenge in writing her memoir Blush, A coming of age story about a Mennonite girl, was this: how can a Mennonite describe what it was like to grow up in a very particular, even peculiar, culture—on a dairy farm in Lancaster County, PA, as a Mennonite child in the ’50’s and ’60’s so that urbanites, members of other religions, races, younger and older people could see themselves in her story? How could a member of a sub-group connect with those in the larger culture?

We will discuss these myths:

  • Only another member of the same group can understand an author. Hence, the smaller the group, the smaller the audience.
  • Or the opposite: It’s good to write your book for everyone.
  • General information about subgroups connects better than specific descriptions

Shirley will describe a series of paradoxes that derive from the central one: the more concrete the writer, the more possible it is to connect with many readers, though not with everyone.

Using her own forthcoming memoir Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets the Glittering World, Shirley will describe seven ways she thought about her audience before and during the writing process and the ways she deliberately tried to connect.

Shirley Hershey Showalter, an award winning writer, began blogging about memoir in 2009 after she entered and won several literary competitions in the Kalamazoo (MI) Gazette. More details about her writing and publications can be found at www.shirleyshowalter.com and on her FB Author Page https://www.facebook.com/ShirleyHersheyShowalter. Her book Blush will launch on September 19, 2013.

 

 

How to Use Deadlines to Help Write Your Memoir

Deadlines provide the memoirist with great incentives to complete their books. Without deadlines, you easily can muddle along producing only small amounts of your manuscript and possibly never finishing it. You also may continue writing, editing, revising or tinkering with your memoir, never deeming it “finished.”

I both love and hate deadlines. I love that they force me to write. I’m a perfectionist, and deadlines make me quit revising and submit my work. This allows me to move on to the next project. Thus, deadlines make me a productive writer. I hate them because they loom over my head causing me stress.

Although deadlines may not feel positive to you, having one actually can constitute a gift. I often suggest giving yourself a self-imposed writing deadline so you receive what you desire—a finished memoir. Each month have a deadline of finishing some aspect or part of your memoir. Maybe you write two chapters, for example. You can choose to have a deadline a week rather than a deadline per month, or you can chunk it down further to a daily deadline, such as writing 500 words. This will keep you moving forward towards getting your memoir written quickly.

In November you have the benefit of taking on an imposed deadline. You can join nonfiction writers all over the world by participating in Write Nonfiction in November  and start and finish your memoir in 30 days. (Okay, maybe you just want to finish a chapter or two, but it is possible to actually write a book in 30 days.) In 2007, I started Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) as a challenge to all those not wanting to write fiction during November to start and complete a nonfiction project in 30 days. (The prior year I had participated in National Novel Writing Month.) Not a contest but rather a challenge, WNFIN does not require an exact word count, just a completed project of some sort—an article, a book, an ebook, a book proposal, a query letter, an essay, etc. This remains a personal challenge; no one will check if you have really finished—but you will know if you completed the task. While you write you also learn; a blog offers 30 days of posts from approximately 20 authors and writing and publishing experts about writing, publishing and promoting nonfiction writing. (You can sign in here: http://writenonfictioninnovember.com/wnfin-2011-participants/. You can also chat with participants on this Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Write-Nonfiction-in-November/157481860957111 .)

Whether you choose to participate in WNFIN or not, here are six tips for using writing deadlines to help you write your memoir quickly:

  1. Chunk tasks down so you have smaller deadlines within your larger deadline.
  2. Use a calendar to keep track of your progress.
  3. Figure out how many words, pages, or chapters you must write each day or week to meet your goal.

Testimonials

Myers makes a compelling case for the power of words as a form of healing and growth.

James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D. professor of psychology, The University of Texas at Austin and author, Opening Up and Writing To Heal

...the NAMW memoir classes with Linda Joy Myers are wonderful

Kathy Pooler