Your favourite stories and creating a powerful memoir

A memoir is a magnificent way to forge your favourite stories in stone, and many people yearn to capture their best memories in a physical book for family members and future generations to enjoy.

Time flies by so quickly and you have probably lived a life filled to the brim with fascinating stories and experiences, but if you don’t bring them together in one place, they will eventually disappear.

There are several things to consider when writing your memoir or commissioning a writer to write it for you.

Capture a special moment or theme

Writing a memoir involves sharing a special moment in your life or writing about a theme that is important to you such as falling in love, cooking or travelling. You want your readers to understand who you are at a deeper level based on the experiences you share. Memoir writing differs from writing an autobiography or life story because it is limited to a collection of memories rather than spanning your entire life. 

Share your learnings 

Readers of your life story want to know what you learned along the way. This shows them you have grown as a person and have become wiser because of your experiences. An example would be talking about a spiritual trek you took somewhere in Asia and how the peace and serenity surrounding you at that moment gave birth to a new you. These moments are what make life more meaningful and worth living. Readers want to know more about you through your memoir, and vivid details make it so much easier for them to remember who you are and what you believe in.

Be honest

A powerful memoir conveys honesty and integrity. This is because readers will sense your true essence when you write your genuine feelings on paper. It goes without saying that it is sometimes tough to be frank and honest because it may hurt other people’s feelings or touch on sensitive topics. It is a tricky process, but honesty in your memoir shows readers your own concept of truth.

Create vivid scenes

The concept of ‘show, don’t tell’ is important in memoir writing, so your readers can imagine the scenes you paint. Place yourself in the scenes and paint a vivid picture your readers can play out in their heads. Using striking language and imagery can help readers visualise what it was like to be you living your unique life.  

Use fiction techniques 

When writing your memoir employ the types of techniques fiction writers use such as creating compelling characters, painting lively scenes, dialogue, internal monologues and incorporating a narrative arc such as the Hero’s Journey. When describing settings and locations, play the words so you captivate readers and keep them engaged. Help them imagine they are you reliving the moment you are describing.

Evoke emotions

One aim of a memoir is to spark an emotional response in your readers. It’s only logical that you should look to convey a feeling—the joy of graduating from high school, the sadness when your first relationship turns sour, and everything in between. When you hook your readers into the emotional side of your memoir, they will continue to keep reading further and invest more time in it. By the time they’re done, you’ll leave them wishing they could read more.

A memoir is an emotional experience that shares your story and what it was like for you living your unique life. If you have something to share, there’s no reason to wait!

A qualified life story writer can turn your memories and life experiences into a book that will withstand the test of time. Find a storyteller today by visiting the Life Stories Australia Association’s members’ page. 

Gabriella Kelly-Davies

Founder, Share your life story

Vice-President Life Stories Australia