1. maiden129
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    maiden129 New Member

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    How to make a memoir creative?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by maiden129, Nov 28, 2012.

    I'm having a hard time of making a memoir creative, I am writing about a friend just for fun and practice on my writing skills. How to make a memoir more interesting to read?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A memoir is not written about someone other than the author (unless it is ghost-written, but it is still about the person upon whose behalf it is written).

    Memoirs are rarely memorable unless the reader already looks up to, or identifies with, the author/subject of the memoir. If the memoir is written by a powerful or successful public figure, readers may be interested in that person's perspective on how he or she became prominent. Likewise, if it is by someone who has suffered a fall from high favor, readers may gain insight into the mistakes leading to the downfall.

    In any case, the focus and attraction is nearly always on life lessons learned.
     
  3. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    An interesting memoir requires an interesting life.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    and good writing skills...
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Good writing skills can make an otherwise uninteresting life fascinating.
     
  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    As indicated above, I think you really mean "biography" not memoir, since you indicated the story was about your friend. In any event, the answers remain the same. Usually biographies/memoirs are of someone who has led some sort of unusual life or who has achieved a high level of success or fame. But this does not always need to be the case. Beyond informing the readers of the background that they wouldn't otherwise know regarding someone famous, in the case of a memoir especially, what really makes the story special is really getting into the thoughts and feelings of the person and enabling the reader to relate to and connect to the person.
     
  7. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    Can you point me to an example?
     
  8. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Maybe it's just me, but does the biography have to be factual? Or can you just make up stuff? I'm sure all the best bios and memoires are at the very least exagerated. Like CV's so I'm told!

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  9. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Maybe it's just me, but does the biography have to be factual? Or can you just make up stuff? I'm sure all the best bios and memoires are at the very least exagerated. Like CV's so I'm told!

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  10. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Greg -
    A biography should be factual. If it's not, then it's a novel. Usually in a biography -- that is, one written by someone not the subject of the book, the author takes great pains to make sure the story is factual, consulting multiple sources and seeking various interpretations of events from different people who experienced an event that is written about in the bio.

    Memoirists get into trouble occasionally, when there are accusations that certain elements of the book are exaggerated or outright false.

    I read two similar stories recently that had to do with children in war-torn Africa. Both were written or co-written by the subjects of the stories. One was categorized as a memoir, and there was controversy that certain elements in the book were inaccurate. The other was categorized as a novel. I read about why, and the reason was that the person didn't completely trust his memory about what he had experienced for every facet of the book and it was difficult to confirm certain events. So he categorized it as a novel because he did not want to attest to the truthfulness of every 'factual' statement he made.

    When you hear about memoirs being exaggerated, or that fiction is more true than memoir, that stems from a tendency for a person to remember things in a manner that portray himself in the best light, and to underplay or forget things that are less flattering. It's easier in a memoir to paint a slanted picture and give only a single interpretation of events, whereas usually a professional biographer will seek out as many interpretations of common events as he can find. So, it's not (usually) that stuff is just "made up," but that events are remembered in a biased manner.
     
  11. MJE
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    MJE New Member

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    A memoir is about the person writing it. And as mentioned above, is factual, and if their life was not interesting then there's not much they can do. What you're writing is a biography where the same applies, unless you change it to a novel where you can write what you please
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    See, this is the part I disagree with. A set of events is sterile. But a writer combines events with one or more viewpoints, and from that, he or she can raise the reader's interest.

    In the case of a memoir, the perspective is that of the subject of the memoir. The author writes about what is meaningful, even life changing, for him or her. It has emotional impact for the author. If well written, the reader gets to see the world through someone else's eyes, and to see what excites that other person, share in that person's passions.

    Bad writing could make the discovery of another contemporary intelligent terrestrial species boring.

    Good writing can make a rainy Saturday afternoon indoors riveting.

    It's not the events. It's how they are presented.
     
  13. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    Depends what you want to do with the finished product. I did a small bio for a friend's 60th birthday. I concentrated on the things we'd shared - I've known her most of my life - and didn't spend too much time on her earlier life. I added quotes and a couple of poems, and photographs - the funnier the better.
    It wasn't too long, but it was personal and she loved it.
     

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