Monday, October 27, 2008

The Story of Your Life (Getting Started)

_Although the terms biography, autobiography and memoir are sometimes used interchangeably they are quite different. Best-selling author Gore Vidal, said, "a memoir is how one remembers one's own life, while autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked." It is more about what can be gleaned from a section of one's life than about the outcome of the life as a whole. (source: Wikipedia, memoir, online).

_What is the difference between a biography, autobiography, and a memoir?

  • Biography - the historical account of a person's life and is written by someone else. Requires research and fact checking. Most often biographies are told chronologically.

  • Autobiography - the historical account of a person's life and is written by that person. Many autobiographies are told chronologically and they tell the complete story of one's life.

  • Memoir - Reminiscences. Thematic (i.e. my life as a chef ... teacher ...cancer survivor... police officer). A book describing the personal experiences of the author. The memoirist does not usually tell their entire story. Genre.

_Memoirs continue to be very popular with the reading public. Every month eight to ten new titles are published by traditional publishers. At this time the number of titles that are self-published are unavailable.

_In my opinion, the best memoirs are those that share with the reader the lessons that the author has learned by going through the experience. As a reader I want to know how their life has changed because of these events. Does the author have something new, something insightful to share with me? Here are some tips on how to get started writing the story of your life:

  1. Ask yourself, "Which events in my life am I going to write about?" - start by making a list (10-15) significant turning points in your life.

  2. What do you want these events to say about your life? - What have you learned from these events? How have these events changed how you live or view the world now. What do you know that the reader might not know?

  3. Will you connect your story to history? - What was going on in the world during this time. This can be a real way in which to connect with the reader.

  4. How much should you tell? - This is an important decision, don't make it lightly. This is solely your decision. Not sure? Consult with someone you trust. Remember your first responsibility is to yourself.

  5. Who is the book for? - First and foremost the book is for you. If you choose to have others read your work then you will need to define your audience.

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