Wondering how to write a memoir agents love? Here are some tips that may help you.
1. Don’t turn it into an autobiography.
Don’t bore your readers with too much background information. Avoid presenting your memoir as a bunch of stories—this happened, and that happened, and then this happened.
Feature outstanding points in your personal history and what they meant to you. Write with a purpose in mind—the message you want to get across. Skip meaningless events and highlight the most important ones.
Build tension into the story. Show yourself plunged into difficult situations as soon as possible. And resolve them. Wind up a changed person from what you went through.
2. Don’t try to get even.
Be cautious about slandering anyone by name when writing the story of your life. Avoid bashing people who harmed you.
Don’t wallow in your own pity party
when writing the story of your life.
Readers aren’t interested in hearing from whining writers who take no responsibility for their own wrongdoing.
3. Don’t try to appeal to everyone when writing your life story.
Your experience may be unique and will appeal to a specific audience–not a generic one.
When writing the story of your life, remember, you want your readers to feel as though they can relate to it.
You can target your market by age. Is this a memoir for young people, women, men, or senior citizens? Is this a story that will appeal to single adults? How about sports enthusiasts or artists? Do you want your memoir to appeal to Christians? Missionary stories have been popular over many years.
4. Don’t brag.
To write a good memoir don’t make yourself out to be perfect. And don’t turn yourself into a victim either. No one is innocent all the time. If you’re comfortable doing so, don’t hesitate to expose your weaknesses. Show where you fell short and your successes.
5. Don’t use your memoir as therapy.
Writing a memoir gives you the opportunity to think about your life and deal with life changes. But don’t confuse writing your book with therapy.
Wondering how to write your life story? Remember, you are not just writing for yourself. You are writing for an audience who paid to buy your book. Avoid focusing on details that make no sense to your readers.
A worthy goal for writing a memoir is to inspire others. How can you do this? Share experiences others can use to help overcome difficulties in their own lives.
6. Don’t include everything.
In an autobiography, you rely on chronology. But while writing your memoir don’t try to include everything. You’ll bore your readers. Just because something happened to you doesn’t mean it will interest anyone else.
7. Don’t preach.
After sharing a scene from your life, if you want to drive home a moral lesson—don’t. If your readers didn’t get the point from your story, a sermon at the end won’t work. Let the story alone give the impact.
8. Don’t leave out a theme.
A theme? Yes, your book should leave a message with your readers.
A memoir isn’t a diary or collection of memories. Good memoir ideas feature compelling themes. Here are a few. Persistence pays off. Lived a hard life with many obstacles to overcome? Show how you did it.
Maybe you’ve overcome nothing and just want to whine about your miserable lot. Don’t bother writing a memoir. No one will want to read it.
What are more praiseworthy themes? Continued acts of courage can win. Has everything seemed to be against you but you overcame? Tell others about it.
Another worthy theme features the importance of family. Today many marriages are falling apart and children are suffering from broken homes. If you have a story of family closeness and loyalty, write about it. If nothing else, future generations of your family will benefit.
Stories about people standing up for the right thing can make great memoirs. If in the past you fought against wrong and stood against the tide, write about it. Books about people making moral choices in the face of adversity can inspire others.
Stories showing crime doesn’t pay can be compelling too. Did you travel the wrong path and now recognize the error of your ways? You may help someone else to avoid such a terrible lifestyle. But to be a successful memoir, you now must lead an ethical life.
Cut anything not connected to your central theme when writing the story of your life.
9. Don’t tell. Show.
In an experience in your life did the weather get hot? As an example, don’t say it was hot. Instead, write something like this. “When I walked barefoot outside, my feet struck the pavement like sausages on a barbecue. I raced to the lawn and then returned inside to get my shoes.”
Is someone angry? Don’t say he was mad. Here’s an example of what you could say. “He pounded the table with his fist, jumped to his feet, and strode off, slamming the door behind him.”
10. Don’t ignore feedback from editors.
Choose beta readers and editors who have no connection to what you’ve written.
Listen to their suggestions. Does part of your story makes little sense to an editor? Even if it happened, take seriously her advice to cut that part out.
But you are the writer and have the final say when you write about your life.
I hope these tips on how to write a memoir will help you on your journey to becoming a published author.
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