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7 Types of Memoirs

The memoir has become a very popular way to discuss the lessons learned over the course of a life. In one way, it’s a creative nonfiction narrative. In another, it includes certain fictional elements in the way the story is constructed so that readers from all walks of life can be attracted to the story offered.

Before a memoir can be written, one of the most important decisions a writer must make is the type of memoir they wish to offer to readers. There are several different types of memoirs that can be written today. Each has its own advantages that are worth considering. Which one of these options could be right for you?

#1. Confessional Memoirs

This unique type of memoir focuses on what the writer feels like are the wrong actions or decisions they took in life. It would be a lot like someone entering a confessional booth to talk to a priest about their sins, which is how this memoir got its name. After discussing the decision or actions, the writer would then use the memoir to talk about how they made amends with those involved and how the process eventually changed their life for the better.

#2. Personal Memoirs

This has been traditionally the most popular type of memoir. It offers a glimpse at the writer’s personal life in a certain segment of time. It may be an adventure that they had, an illness they had to fight, or a divorce they had to endure. This memoir always focuses on a specific experience or event, why that event may have occurred, and what was learned after the situation resolved in some way.

#3. Portrait Memoirs

This unique type of memoir is the only one that is written by someone other than the actual person. It’s based on the experiences or events of a person who has documented them thoroughly in some way. If someone found a diary, for example, they could begin to write this type of memoir based on what the diary writer had included within their narrative. The writer of a portrait memoir does not include their own thoughts or feelings – only what they have found in their research is included.

#4. Professional Memoirs

This type of memoir is written from the perspective of the writer’s professional life. If someone was a politician, for example, they might write a memoir about their time in public office. A writer might offer a memoir about their experiences of trying to get their first novel published. Some memoirs in this category are written for the purpose of forming a historical record of events. Others may be written as training materials for other employees. At the end of the day, however, this type of memoir still needs to offer a story arc and thesis to keep the reader engaged.

#5. Public Memoirs

Some people live their lives in a very public way. Celebrities would be associated with this type of memoir, but so would anyone that lives their life in the public eye on a regular basis. This memoir is a little different because the goal is to let readers get to know the writer in a more personal way than the public lens allows. There are more thoughts, opinions, feelings, and points of view included in this narrative without the need for a comprehensive story arc.

#6. Transformational Memoirs

This is one of the most common types of memoirs that is printed today. This category includes coming of age memoirs, overcoming addictions or challenging circumstances, or embracing religion or spirituality and the changes that decision helped to create. Significant events are included in this memoir, experiences that helped to shape the writer, and what was found at the end of the journey during the quest for transformation.

#7. Travel Memoirs

Some writers have had notable experiences happen to them while traveling. Others may have started traveling just so they could have those experiences. This type of memoir focuses on the personal adventure of the situation and whatever challenges that may have been faced and overcome. Imagine climbing Mount Everest and dealing with the cold, wind, and low oxygen near the summit. What were the writer’s thoughts, feelings, and choices during this difficult time? That’s what makes this type of memoir stand out.

All of these different types of memoirs can then be broken down into sub-types based on writer preference. You can even decide to create your own type of memoir to suit your needs if you wish. That way you can narrow down the many different ways to write a memoir down to the one way that is right for you.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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