Writing Lessons: Some Tips on Writing Good Transitions

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00025]WHEN AMY DAWS wrote to me about her recently published memoir, I asked her about her writing challenges in the project, which led us to a discussion about writing good transitions. Ah, transitions. More tears are shed over these, perhaps, than most writing topics. But in Amy’s case, this was particularly trying since she was using a timeline of a pregnancy interspersed with flashbacks. Not an easy thing to do, but necessary in a book that tackles the hope she had for a successful pregnancy after suffering multiple miscarriages. So I invited her to take on the transition. See what you think. Write a comment and ask Amy about writing her new book, Chasing Hope, and enter to win a copy of the book. [Read more...]

Twenty Top Tips For Writing Memoir

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540

IT’S THE BIRTHDAY of the Writing Lessons column. It’s been a year, and in that time some of the greatest current memoir writers have taken their time to teach you how to write memoir. To celebrate the anniversary I thought I’d give you a little gift in the form of a new website page. [Read more...]

Writing Lessons: Are There Rules for Writing Memoir?

Maria Mutch book coverImageARE THERE RULES FOR WRITING MEMOIR? For instance, can your story be enlarged by the story of someone else whose life parallels or informs your own? When Maria Mutch proposed this question as a Writing Lessons piece, I knew I had a fine writer on the line, and that I wanted to introduce you to her. The author of the remarkable memoir, Know the Night, Maria just learned that her book was named one of Oprah’s “Memoirs Too Powerful to Put Down.” For good reason. It is. Read on. [Read more...]

Writing Lessons: How to Cover Time When Writing Memoir

Jessica Hendry Nelson book cover Book coverMUST MEMOIR BE CHRONOLOGICAL? In a word, no. How is your story best told? How can the reader best absorb it? These are the questions to begin to ask yourself as you face the writing dilemma of how to cover time when writing memoir. Let me introduce you to Jessica Hendry Nelson, author of  If Only You People Could Follow Directions (Counterpoint Press), a book that is getting a great deal of much-deserved attention. When we got talking about her topic and she posed the idea of coming out against chronology, I knew she was perfect for a Writing Lessons post. Read on. [Read more...]

Writing Lessons: Finding the Message in Your Memoir Writing

Four_Funerals_cover-1MUCH LIKE FINDING MEANING IN LIFE, finding the message in your memoir writing requires some digging. I would argue that in both life and in writing what you should dig past are the easy questions and their all-too-available answers. Meet Jill Smolowe, author of the marvelous new memoir, Four Funerals and a Wedding: Resilience in a Time of Grief (She Writes Press, 2014), and read about the questions she is always asked, as well as those she asks herself, when writing her books. To date, Jill is the author of two fine memoirs. Find out how she brought them to the page. [Read more...]

Writing Lessons: The Steps To Finding Your Writing Voice & Structure

9-1FINDING YOUR WRITING VOICE requires experimenting. It’s as simple – and complicated – as that. And when I say this to my classes, I frequently get back accusatory stares. I think people feel cheated by this suggestion, as though I know how I found my voice and I’m not saying. What am I am saying? Experiment. When you do, you may find that your structure follows. To illustrate how to experiment your way to your own writing voice and subsequent structure, I’ve asked Nancy Sharp, author of just-out memoir, Both Sides Now, to illustrate how she found her way to write a book that Kirkus calls, “eloquent and fiercely hopeful.” That’s a voice to listen to. Read on. [Read more...]