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How to Write a Short Memoir

How To Write A Short Memoir

how to write a short memoir

Memoirs can be a lot of fun to write. You get to dive into some nostalgia, offer life lessons to others, and tell a great story. Life really is about how each of our stories connect with one another. A short memoir puts the stories we already tell to others in writing so others can enjoy them.

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Knowing how to write a short memoir sounds easy in concept, but can sometimes be difficult to write. After all, the short memoir is more of a vignette instead of a full story. This requires the creation of a solid intro, body, and conclusion while offering a meaningful lesson in only a few thousand words.

These tips will help you to get the process started so you can write about what happens to you each day in a meaningful way.

#1. Short memoirs are always written in the first person.

You’re telling a personal story. Don’t use impersonal pronouns when writing a short memoir. Write this story as if you were telling it to someone else.

#2. Keep the narrative in a familiar tone.

This is where the “show it, don’t tell it” aspect of writing comes into play for the short narrative. Introduce the key players of your narrative as if the reader already knows these people. They won’t know them right away, but through the context of your story, they’ll understand that you’re talking about your wife, a close friend, your son, your son’s teacher, and whomever else has a starring role.

#3. Keep it to one key point.

A short memoir doesn’t have the space necessary to convey multiple lessons in a meaningful way. You’ve got the time to make one solid key point. Focus on that as the thesis of your story and you’ll be able to make this a meaningful memoir.

#4. Add some flare or drama to your memoir.

This is the reason why some story tellers attract large audiences and others just yawn and tune out the story. Add some flare and drama to your short memoir. Put in an element of danger if it exists. You want people to be at the edge of their seat, trying to figure out what is going to happen.

#5. Make the narrative feel familiar to the reader.

One of the best ways you can create feelings of familiarity within a short narrative is to allude to something that most people are going to understand. You might consider current events, specific actions you take when something happens, or an event that many people will know.

#6. Write with your audience in mind.

The danger of a short memoir is that it can be written in such general terms that it has no real meaning to anyone. You need to write this story with a certain type of reader in mind. Others outside of this specific demographic can still pick up on the lessons being taught in your story, while the targeted reader is going to find the short memoir to be a profound thought worth replicating in their own life.

#7. Try to include recent experiences as much as possible.

When memories are fresh in the mind, the details that can be discussed are much more vivid. You remember sights, sounds, and smells with much more accuracy if something happened yesterday compared to 10 years ago. Now this doesn’t mean older memories aren’t also vivid – it simply means older memories tend to be about life-altering events while recent memories tend to deal with the business of life. And, in many ways, it’s the business of life that makes a short memoir such an attractive piece of literature. Key life changing moments deserve a long-form memoir.

#8. Make sure to give your short memoir a meaningful ending.

The one issue with a short memoir that many writers face is the ending. The drama comes during the events that happen. Ending that drama in a meaningful way to give the reader an outcome seems almost anticlimactic. Yet you also don’t want to leave a reader wondering what happened afterward. Even if the ending is short and sweet [“I survived and you can too.”] the memoir will be more meaningful to every reader who encounters it.

Knowing how to write a short memoir means being personal, being real, and being precise with your words. You have no room for meaningless phrases or sentences. Grab the reader with a good idea, keep them hooked through the drama of what happened, and let them learn something from the experience. When you can do that, you’ll have written something that is quite fantastic.


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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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