1. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Active Member

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    Memoir or Autobiography?

    Discussion in 'By Writing Form' started by Maverick_nc, Apr 3, 2019.

    Hi all, this is my first post so please forgive me for making it a question. I wanted to post in the non-fiction section but apparently my privileges are insufficient to do so.

    I've been plodding on and struggling to write what I'd always considered to be a memoir for some time now, when I stumbled upon a blog post by a very well known author who, in a nutshell, strongly advised against including a life-story in a memoir as, by definition, it then becomes an autobiography instead.
    Autobiographies by those who are already known/famous are acceptable and even interesting, but for those of us not in the public eye it raises the very valid question of why would anyone care about our stories? Sure, my story is interesting to me, but that's because its mine!
    I agree with these sentiments, however....
    My own story/memoir IS a life story, with a redemptive arc, and wouldn't really make sense or be interesting if I only wrote about smaller aspects individually. So my question is this:
    Is it ok to write a memoir in the style of a novel?
    Or should I cut each part of the story into chunks and dish these out separately, where I could perhaps, explore the themes more thoroughly but in which there would be no arc?

    I'm very confused on 'the rules', if indeed there are any. I know full well that regardless of what I do it needs to be interesting to the reader and not only myself but what is the best way to tell a true story?!

    Warmest Regards
    Neil
     
  2. Bjørnar Munkerud

    Bjørnar Munkerud Senior Member

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    I'd say there are no "rules". The only problem is how to categorise, pitch and advertise the book. I'm not well versed on such matters, but my suggestion would be to not worry about this issue until you are being confronted with it (such as when the work is finished or published, or when you enter into a discussion about it with your publisher). And hopefully you'll have someone to spitball with when it comes for the "decision" to be made.
     
  3. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    As either a novel but only you know it is really about you (I'm sure it has and does happen all the time), or as you said, your autobiography. It will probably read and sell better as a novel, since like you said, "who are you?"
     
  4. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Active Member

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    Many thanks for the replies, I much appreciate the advice.
    I think I will just crack on with writing the damn thing and worry about all of this later,. After all, its the drive to tell my story in the first place that got me started, I shouldn't get side-tracked.

    Warm regards
    Neil
     
  5. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Active Member

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    Is anyone able to tell me how I go about gaining sufficient privileges to post in other sections? I'd dearly love to be critiqued on a short opening scene but I'm unable to post in the relevant place....
     
  6. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    If it is long you have to use the workshops

    • The text of all stories, poems, or other writing offered for comment and critique must be posted directly within the Writing Workshop.
    • You must own the copyright to all work claimed your own.
    • If your writing contains adult language, sexual behavior, or violent, it must be marked/categorized as such.
    • Enclosures, links, downloads, and images are not acceptable (this applies to the WIP itself, as well as its contents).
    • The work to be reviewed, and all critiques, must be posted directly, without any supplementary materials.
    • Posting in the Writing Workshop requires 2 or more constructive critiques of other members' work for each new posted work.
    • You must be registered for at least 14 days and have made 20 posts before you can create a thread in our workshops. (This requirement does not apply to members who purchase Supporter status.)
    • Only your own writing may be posted in the Writing Workshop.
    • By posting, you are granting limited use. Specifically, retention or removal of that piece of writing from the site is solely at the discretion of the site administration team, and members may quote the submission in full or in part for the purpose of critique within that thread.
    • Please do not spread stories and articles across multiple threads, including blog threads. If a story won't fit in the initial post, subsequent pieces should be posted as replies to the original post.
    • If you are requesting a beta-read for a complete manuscript that is not posted in the Workshop, please request this in the Collaborative Projects subforum. Beta reads may be requested only after you have satisfied the Writing Workshop requirements, as well as been a member for 90 days, and made 100 posts. Do not post the work itself anywhere on the forum; doing so may harm your chances of getting it published. Any agreement to give a beta-read that is made by a member is made solely by that member and not as a part or affiliate of this forum. The forum bears no responsibility to enforce completion of said beta-read. It is an agreement between the writer and the beta-reader, separate from the forum.
    • Published works should be reviewed on Amazon, Goodreads, or other commercial site. WritingForums is for works-in-progress; a venue for writers to help each other.
     
  7. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    If you keep it short, no more than a paragraph, start a thread like: critique my opening paragraph, or my first three sentences, and people will likely respond.
     
  8. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Active Member

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    • Posting in the Writing Workshop requires 2 or more constructive critiques of other members' work for each new posted work.
    • You must be registered for at least 14 days and have made 20 posts before you can create a thread in our workshops. (This requirement does not apply to members who purchase Supporter status.)
    • Only your own writing may be posted in the Writing Workshop
    Thank you for clarifying the requirements. I'm happy to critique others work although I don't feel particularly qualified to do so, however I don't have sufficient privileges to post critiques in the Workshop so much like the chicken and the egg, what am I to do?
    Is there any way to speed up the two week wait? I only discovered this forum a few days ago and whilst I understand this is to avoid spammers and selfish posters, I don't believe I am either! I feel the requirement of creating 20 posts to be a little much as it actually encourages me to spam...

    Many Thanks
    Neil
     
  9. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Active Member

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    For the record, the piece i'd like to submit for peer feedback is roughly 700 words. Its the opening 1 1/2 pages of my memoir that i'm looking to have reviewed to find out if its anywhere near good enough, or indeed has a strong enough hook.

    Warm Regards
    Neil
     
  10. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    I think you have to wait the 14 days.

    About the 20 posts, that can be done easily if you find interesting threads. You don't have to create a thread just respond to them.
     
  11. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Active Member

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    Ok, many thanks for your replies and time. Much appreciated.
    Neil
     
  12. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    See, you're already up to 6.
     
  13. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Active Member

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    7... :)
     
  14. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    My understanding is that an autobiography is usually one of a celebrity who has already made his or her mark in some field other than writing ... politics, acting, or whatever. It's not held to the same literary standards as a memoir, but simply describes the circumstances of the author's career from his or her particular vantage point, and is noteworthy more for historical than literary reasons.

    A memoir, on the other hand, sets out to be a work of art that stands on its own, and fails or succeeds on the merits of its literary appeal. That doesn't mean that a book can't succeed as both. Peter Ustinov's Dear Me is both a memoir and an autobiography. And I would add Peter Freuchen's Vagrant Viking to that list; people who knew him as an explorer were pleasantly astonished to find out that he was a marvelous storyteller as well. (I remember a friend of mine reading the table of contents, with a synopsis of each chapter, and muttering "This guy is a mythomaniac," only to find that every chapter rang true ... this guy really did what he said he did.)
     
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