Memoir Writing Guide | Your Life In A Book - Your life. Your story. Your legacy.

Memoir Writing Guide

This section features a series of blog posts from our ghost writers and editors. It also includes links to articles, courses, books and other things that will help you on your life story journey.

Why, who, how?

Before you sit down and put to pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard pause for a moment and think about a few things. [read more]

Why you are writing your memoir(s), who you’re writing it for and how you’re going to approach it.

Are you writing your version of the family history? Is this book going to be passed down to future generations to help fill the gaps? Is it a therapeutic exercise? Is it for your family and friends? Will anyone from your business or working life see it?

What are the crux points or turning points in your life? What happened over a period of time, or perhaps individual incidents, that made you the person you are?

Are you going to tell your story in a linear, chronological way or are you going to build it around and focus on key periods in your life?

What do you want people to think when they’ve read your book?

Start thinking about all of these things. Then delve deeper.

Click here if you want some advice on a particular part of your life story project.

14 July 2020

Fine-tune those project management skills!

Writing and publishing your autobiography or family history isn’t just a case of getting those words down on the page. [read more]

It’s a chance to practise, fine-tune and show-off your project management skills as well: planning, research, time management, writing, editing, sourcing external advice and manuscript review, scanning and re-touching photos, finding a typesetter or designer, sourcing a suitable printer and organising a launch for your book… 

Click here if you want some advice on a particular part of your life story project.

2 April 2020

A good book to read on writing…?

A couple of people contacted us asking about ‘good books on writing’. There’s no shortage. In Australia, Carmel Bird has no less than three to her name. A recent bestseller in the UK is Will Storr’s ‘The Science of Storytelling’. However, I’m going to be very predictable. [read more]

My favourite (and the one I’ve used the most) is Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. I can’t recommend it enough.

Which books on writing would you recommend? 

30 March 2020

Proofreading your memoir – some tips

Doing an initial review of your copy on screen is fine. But don’t proofread on screen. Print it out. And print it with plenty of space between the lines. The extra space makes it easier to read and gives you more room to make notes. We recommend a point size of 11 and spacing of at least 2.0 if you’re using Microsoft Word. [read more]

Use a red pen to make your notes and corrections.

Consider reading your copy backwards. You won’t necessarily pick up context or grammar poiints, but it will help pick-up speling mistakes, double  spaces and ‘punctuation=errors.

When you make your corrections on screen, make the text a different colour (suggest a mid-blue) at the start of the process. Change it back to black, paragraph by paragraph, as you make changes.

If you’re not in a desperate hurry, leave it a few days (or even weeks) between looking at different versions of the same document or manuscript. ‘Fresh eyes’ are your friend.

Always always always ask someone else to look at what you’ve written – printed out, not on screen. And when you do, be clear with them about what you want them to do.

1) Give it a ‘once-over’ in terms of spelling, grammar, punctuation?
2) Are they formally proofreading it?
3) Are you asking them to copy-edit it as well?
4) Are they fact-checking?
Be clear about what you need from them.

Be aware of phrases and less common words you use a lot. We all do it, but we’re not always aware of it. Unusual or less common words can add a little colour or even gravitas in the right place, but if you overuse them it can weary the reader. If you’re memoir is in Word, open your document and press CTRL F. (‘F’ being for ‘find’). A panel will open-up at top left of your screen. Type your suspect word or phrase in there and within a split second you’ll see how many times the word has been used and where. If you’re overdoing ‘sanctimonious’ or ‘privileged’ or ‘wonderful’ you’ll soon find out.

What tips would you like to share? 

24 March 2020

Memoir writing tips

1. Make a list of all the people you know who should get a mention in your memoir or family history.
2. Make a list of places you’ve been, places you worked, where you went to school etc. [read more]

3. Make a list of notable dates: birthdays, when you left school or university, job start dates (and which companies). When did you get married? When did you travel to such-and-such place? Where were you and what were you doing when 9/11 happened? And so on.
4. Think of the films you love and when you first saw them. Same with songs, sporting events. Who was there, what happened?
5. Cross-reference the lists. Things will come flooding back. Write them down…

What tips would you like to share? (Click here)

19 March 2020

© Your Life in a Book 2020