Here’s a list of articles and websites I recommend for learning the craft of writing (whether fiction or nonfiction).
“How to Write Your Memoir: A 4-Step Guide” by Jerry B. Jenkins
Jerry Jenkins is the author of the memoir Writing for the Soul (and over 190 other books). In this article, he says, “A memoir draws on selected anecdotes from your life to support a theme and make a point.” But in the eyes of a publisher, the memoir is “not about you — it’s about what readers can gain from your story.” The author goes on to discuss: 1) theme; 2) choosing anecdotes; 3) using novel-writing techniques; and 4) telling your truth without “throwing people under the bus.” He also touches on common memoir mistakes and includes a list of 10 well-written memoirs (out of the nearly 50 he read before writing his own).
“Writing a Memoir Like a Novel” Series
If you’d like your memoir to have the depth and flow of a novel, try the techniques fiction writers pull out of their bag of tricks. This ongoing series covers what I know about writing fiction as it applies to memoir. Before taking on the project that became This New Mountain, I had completed dozens of short stories and several novels and novellas. It’s no surprise my approach to AJ Jackson’s true story (of a feisty private investigator and grandmother) includes the same elements that make up my works of fiction.
■ A Compelling Opening
■ Evoking Emotions
■ Passive vs. Active Voice
■ Point of View
■ Scene Structure
■ Story Arc
With more than 190 published books and sales of more than 70 million copies (including the bestselling Left Behind series), Jerry Jenkins must have done something right once or twice. Following his blog and studying the free materials available on his website will help hone any writer’s skills. This is an all-around great place to find answers to your writing and publishing questions.
♦ The Heart and Craft of Life Writing
Tips, guidelines and insights on all facets of life writing, plus click on their Free Stuff tab for eBooks and timeline resources. Content includes author interviews and guest posts, as well as Sharon Lippincott’s own observations and tips from her book, The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing.
♦ Memories & Memoirs
Linda Joy Myers says, “Most people who write memoir are searching for memories that validate their experience, but they worry about writing the truth. A memoir is not a factual recitation of history, it’s a recollection, a musing and merging of images, dreams, reflections moments on your life’s journey.”
♦ Memoir Writer’s Journey
You’ll find a wide range of posts from exploring themes to social media tidbits on Kathy Pooler’s website. She’s “a writer and a retired family nurse practitioner working on a memoir about the power of hope through my faith in God. Hope Matters. I believe we are all enriched when we share our stories.”
♦ National Association of Memoir Writers
The goal of NAMW “is to help memoir writers feel empowered with purpose and energy to begin and develop their life stories into a publishable memoir, whether in essay form, a book, a family legacy, or to create a blog.” Besides excellent articles, they also have public roundtable recordings of topics pertaining to memoir writing.