If you feel you have a book that needs writing, or you’ve already written it but don’t know what to do next, The Wordsmithy will help you get that book from the keyboard to the bookshelves and the Internet. The Wordsmithy digital publishers and pre-press service was founded in 1979 to provide discerning customers with quality pre-press services at every level. Printed and digitized words are our business. For more information please contact us.
TIPS FOR WRITING YOUR MEMOIRS
The most important person to consider when you write your memoir is the reader. You are the story teller, but if your reader gets bogged down in your verbiage, your story won’t get told. Your book will sit on a shelf unread, or in an e-reader library for posterity. That’s because your reader’s eye must move smoothly across the page so that the pages don’t stop turning until they get to the end of your story.
The Wordsmithy offers the following tips as a service to those who make a commitment to writing their stories.
Make a timeline, a list of dates in order, and fill in the people and events that had an impact on your life. Try to get the dates right. This will give your readers a frame of reference and gives credibility to your work. Since memory can be self-serving or misleading, talk about the past with people who were there with you.
Do research, go back through your papers and memorabilia, read journals, letters, yearbooks, and newspapers to refresh your memory, and interview people who can corroborate your memories. Make a list of questions you think your readers would want you to answer.
Analyze your family photos, historical photos, even paintings of the time. Make lists about yourself and family members: favorite foods, sayings, pastimes, songs, etc. (be serious or funny). Write short capsules about those things, expand them when you have an interesting or unusual story to tell. More details will begin to appear once you start writing.
Good memoirs are about extraordinary experiences and about everyday things. They must be true, have integrity and be authentic, so be careful not to exaggerate or embellish the truth. Experience has shown you can’t fool the public for very long and the truth will come out, one way or another. Don’t write history. Tell your story.
Think about how to engage the reader and set the context for reading. Keep it simple. Write/type your first draft quickly to get all your ideas down from beginning to end. Follow your timeline and fill in gaps. Write as if you are telling the story to a friend. Don’t worry about editing. The rewrites come later, while you read and re-read the story again and again. It’s all about catching what needs to be tweaked. It can get very boring, and your eyes will play tricks on you, so you will need many sets of “fresh eyes” to help you complete the task, but do not be discouraged.
As you read, you will add, delete, and move things around, refine the text, or improve the way you organized your story. Now’s the time to support your facts, sharpen the focus, be concise yet interesting. Don’t ramble, and please don’t use “big” words to try to impress people. The Wordsmithy credo is Keep it Simple.
Write for 15 minutes or write for an hour or as long as you like, but establish a specific place to write and give yourself a routine to follow. Don’t forget to write about things people can’t see—feelings, smells, and textures. Write about how you set goals and achieved them, and do talk about failures and how you overcame them. Keep your sense of humor. Include maps, documents, and newspaper articles where appropriate, but don’t over do it. Choose the most interesting photos of family, events, and places that pertain to the story. Indicate where they should be inserted in the text.
Consider the response from family members, but go with what feels right. Discuss the writing with others and use their questions, comments, and suggestions when self-editing your book. Conclude the memoir effectively, with a message for your readers that will leave them with food for thought.