Writing Tips


If You Can Write a Letter, You Can Start Your Memoir 1

WHEN IT COMES TO WRITING MEMOIR, the most frequently asked question I receive is, “How do I start?” My brief answer is, “You start by starting. You write what comes. Don’t worry about the form or the content at this point. Just write.” And that’s true. But what would-be memoirists […]


Blogtalk: A Roundup of Memoir Writing Tips 4

WRITING A MEMOIR, whether it’s your first go-round or your tenth, is a daunting and sometimes discouraging undertaking. It requires a certain amount of grit, determination, and courage. It can also be helpful to read how others have done it and gain wisdom from their experiences. So this week, I’ve rounded […]


How to Write a Scene 11

 A good writer can conjure a landscape and its peoples to live inside you, and the best writers make you feel they’ve disclosed their soft underbellies. — Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir WHEN YOU READ A MEMOIR, what about that author’s story evokes emotion in you? What makes the […]


From Memories to Memoirs, Part 10 — Structuring Your Memoir 11

Memoir isn’t the summary of a life; it’s a window into a life, very much like a photograph in its selective composition. It may look like a casual and even random calling up of bygone events. It’s not; it’s a deliberate construction. ~ William Zinsser, On Writing Well (30th Anniversary Edition) I am often […]


From Memories to Memoirs Part 6: Writing in Metaphor

In the previous installment of this series, we examined the strong verb and its importance to our story’s tone and pace. In this post, we’ll look at figurative language — metaphor. What exactly is metaphor? Metaphor compares abstract concepts to familiar objects and is the mechanism by which we understand those […]


From Memories to Memoirs Part 5 — Strong Verbs 2

You have been working on ways to remember and write your life story vividly, with concrete and sensory details that draw your reader into the world of your story. Now, consider how the verbs you choose effect tone and pace. In the midst of a story, when you describe a static object, you are in […]

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From Memories to Memoirs, Part 3 — Remembering Vividly 6

This is the third in a series on moving from memories to memoirs. Click here to read Memories to Memoirs, Part 1 and Memories to Memoirs, Part 2. In part two, we used map drawing to trigger memories about place and time in our lives. In this article I present another technique to release sensory […]


Between Writing Projects: 4 Ways to Get Writing Again 10

Having just released two books in six months — the first, a collection of women’s stories and poems about the ’60s and ’70s, and the second a memoir that took seven years to write — I felt lost, empty, and spent. I would sit at the computer with the intention of writing, only […]