1. Iamfenian

    Iamfenian New Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Likes Received:


    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Iamfenian, Mar 7, 2013.

    I understand how significant dialogue is to a story but as I write my memoir the dialogue is really minimal. (I am aware that there are very few memoirs with minimal dialogue....Stitches by David Small is one example) The Liar's Club by Mary Karr and The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer are just chock full of wonderful dialogue...J. R. Moehringer took a LOT of notes before writing his memoir. And I have heard that it's okay to fictionalize dialogue in memoirs but I just cannot seem to do it. I feel like it's lying and vey unethical. So what do I do? Rely heavily on descriptive aspects of my memories? Ultimately I would like the memoir written in fragments (chronologically of course) similar to Denise Levertov's Tesserae Any thoughts appreciated!
  2. JJ_Maxx

    JJ_Maxx Banned

    Oct 8, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Personally, I love dialogue. I feel dialogue is the lifeblood of a story. Most of what you're writing is memories and they will probably be partial-truths anyways. Memory is a very unreliable thing.

    I would shoot for both entertainment and the spirit of the life, not necessarily the exact letter of the life. ;)

    ~ J. J.
  3. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Coquille, Oregon
    ditto that...
  4. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I like dialogue, but only if it is effective. I wouldn't throw in dialogue just for the sake of dialogue, but I would use it where it is fitting.

    However, I can see where a memoir might be light on dialogue.
  5. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

    Mar 7, 2013
    Likes Received:
    You can fictionalise your memoir and create dialogue

    Ooh, a memoir is difficult, when it comes to dialogue. You can't really put words in real people's mouths, can you, unless you're absolutely certain of exactly what they said. I would say you're right; be very wary of creating dialogue in a memoir.

    But ...have you ever thought about fictionalising your memoir? Pretend it's a story about somebody else, a fictional character?

    You can use your memories to re-create scenes which matter to you, but you'll also have the freedom to change your past if you want, to put words in people's mouths, and generally play around with events.

    Some people say that it's 'theraputic' to write about your past, especially when it was bad and you want to exorcise demons. My own view is that it's only theraputic if you change the bad stuff. Otherwise you're just rehashing, same old same old.

    So make up a few names, change the name of the town, then take that love affair that went wrong and make it come out right. (It's amazing the insight something like this will give you, on what actually went wrong!) Take that cruel mother you had, and give her to somebody elseā€”then you can be the friend you wish you'd had, who helps the abused daughter win through. Send your character to college if you never managed to go yourself and always wanted to, and see where the experience gets them.

    Obviously, if your life was fantastic and interesting, then a straight memoir without dialogue will be fine. But if it needs a boost of dialogue, and you're not happy about either recalling or creating specific things that were said, then make a piece of fiction out of it. That way you have total control, and you can make anything happen that you want to happen. Fun. And you still get to use your experiences for all they're worth.

Share This Page