1. gina
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    gina Member

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    Want to write a memoir, how do i start?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by gina, Jul 27, 2015.

    I'd like to write a memoir about my life as a former NCAA Division I and Professional Athlete. It's always a topic of interest especially for parents who'd like their kid to be a collegiate student athlete. The longest paper I've ever written was a 10 pager back in college, so to write a memoir or novel seems like a daunting task. Do you have any advice on how to organize the writing into sizable pieces so I'm pacing myself and not getting over burdened. I'd really like to write this memoir and maybe some fiction novels in the future, for me it's getting past the how am I going to write a book with 200 pages. Suggestions welcomed.
     
  2. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    Forgive me for getting personal, but did your athletic career end because of something dramatic?

    If so, then you could start with that, then backfill your memoir. An excellent example of this type of writing that I find inspirational and irresistible is author Mitch Albom. And, I think Mitch was a sports journalist before he became a writer?

    I think that would be a great place to start.

    On the other spectrum is a memoir about how you've successfully adapted from athletics to some __ new __ career.

    I've read a lot of memoirs written by (and for) athletes. If you can give some additional specifics, I will be able to share some of my best recommendations.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  3. live2write
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    Start at a point of time that would Spark the Story. What sport did you play? Did the journey come with advantages or disadvantages and what are they? What was your peak and your downfall? How did you succeed?

    Tell me who you are. Where did you come from? Your decisions that got you this far? Your relationships with family, friends, partners, coaches. enemies? What was it like when you found out? How did the world react around you?

    To be honest, you are going to write a lot. What tells the story is when you edit down. Even if you write 100 pages about your childhood. Only 25 might make it in the final draft.

    Write and keep writing
     
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  4. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    Live2Write is spot on. All the things she mentioned is what the reader will want to know. If your memoir becomes a teaching moment, all the better.
     
  5. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    These were questions I asked that were answered to me after watching "The Blind Side"
     
  6. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am wondering what is so special about your student athlete life...

    Why is your story so interesting? Millions of kids have gone through top level sports while at college, are you writing a "how to" or your story? Did you make the Olympic team or other such feat only to be cut at the last minute due to steroid abuse? If so, maybe you could start by waking up in hospital surrounded by your family and a priest, or standing in the IOC dock and then track back to how it all started and where it all went wrong - maybe clichéd but you get the drift.

    To start your story too early will just bore people - who cares what you wore at Sunday school, start too late and you may miss important stuff. To be linear may cause people to catch their fingers in the book when they slam it closed on page 2.

    Good luck and feel free to bounce off people here :)
     
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  7. jannert
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    Yes, I agree with @erebh . You need to come up with some angle that will make your story special.

    Before you do anything else, if I were you I would google "how to write a memoir" or some wording like that, and see what other people have to offer on the subject. A lot of what other people say can spark ideas in your own head, and also warn of pitfalls. If you don't know where to start, then that tack might bear fruit.

    There are books and articles out there on writing memoirs as well. I can't recommend any in particular, because writing memoirs isn't something I do. But I'd check them out. Not as blueprints (unless you want a blueprint) but as examples of what can be done and why.

    This looks like a good one, and Writers' Digest is always a good source:

    http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/elements-of-an-effective-arc
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  8. psychotick
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    Hi Gina,

    Welcome to the forums. My question to you would be why do you want to write this memoire? Is it because you've done something so amazing that it needs to be recorded for posterity? Or is it because like so many of the current generation you're looking for your fifteen minutes of fame?

    The reason I ask - and it's not to deride you in any way - is because you then go on to say you want to write novels - and that's a completely different thing. When you write a novel it's about using your imagination. And I imagine that most novelists aren't in it for the fame. They write because they want to tell a story - and hopefully get paid for it. Memoires aren't or shouldn't be fiction and don't rely on imagination.

    Personally as a novelist I don't want to be famous. It would be the worst thing in the world. I just want to sell my books to a lot of people and know that they enjoy them. I would never write a memoire.

    But if you choose to go down this road, after searching for your motivation, you need to critically examine your source material - ie your life. What is it about your life that makes it so special that others should want to read about it? That's not a put down, it's an honest question and you need to address it before you start writing.

    For me having lived I suspect longer than you, I could I suppose tell some stories about my past. Outbreaks I've investigated, chemical spills I've dealt with, and some of the most colourful people in the world that I've met. There would be some car crashes and romances too. But if I were to ever go down that road - and thankfully I wouldn't - I would look at something along the lines of James Heriot's vet books as a template. Anecdote by anecdote. Story by story. They are still wonderful reading. I would recommend them as a starting point.

    Cheers, Greg.
     

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