So you want to write a memoir? This editor has some tips

You already have a great pile of notes, notebooks full of journaling, or other writing about the period in your life you’ve chosen to write about. How do you bring it to life?

Jennifer Silva Redmond, freelance editor and writing instructor whose short-form memoir has been published nationally, says that when writing memoir, your story needs a focus.

Fiction writers often compose “elevator pitches,” or quick, 30-second summaries of their novels. Memoir should be no different, Jennifer says, because you want your story to carry a message, and creating a “pitch” helps you get that message across while developing a tightly woven narrative.

Jennifer shares a trick that has worked quite well for her short-form memoir: she simply titles her essay before writing it. By doing this, she can more easily stay on message throughout just by keeping the title in mind as she writes. In much the same way, creating a pitch beforehand can help you stay on point for a book-length work.

This also helps to make your memoir the right length. Too long, and you risk boring your readers with needless detail. Too short (“great bones, but not enough meat on the skeleton,” as Jennifer puts it) and you’ll probably need to find more to add to the story. When it comes to word count, there’s definitely a sweet spot!

Jennifer Silva Redmond is one of the featured contributors in the September 2018 issue of Books & Buzz Magazine. Subscribe here (free) to receive the first issue in your e-mail inbox, and get more helpful tips for writing memoir!

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