"Have you thought about writing your family history, but found yourself stuck from the start? Writing a family narrative can be a daunting task, but Karen Jones Gowen found a way to bring her mother's story to life." (Homespun Magazine)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Writing the Memoir

I recently read Ann Best's memoir In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets. I just added it to my Shelfari shelf of memoir-type books I have read.

What makes a good memoir? First, the cover. This is a wonderful cover because you can stare at it at length wondering about the people before you even crack open the book. Then while you're reading, you can flip back to it and recall how Ann and Larry looked on their wedding day.  And you can ponder this photo with their children and think about how things are not always as happy as it seems when a family gathers for a smiling group shot.

Which brings me to another important element of memoir-- story! There needs to be a beginning, middle and end; conflict; memorable, identifiable characters; resolution of conflict; real life situations that the reader can connect with; and don't forget-- good writing!!

There's the autobiography someone might write for family and posterity with particulars and photos from one's life. These have a place in personal and family history and kudos to anyone who is able to write one. And then there's the publishable memoir such as Ann wrote-- something that connects with a large demographic of readers who will pay for the privilege of reading her story. 

I like to think the genre is called "memoir" because it's "memorable." Not simply a collection of "memories" but a story that stays in your heart and mind long after. That's the kind of memoir that Ann Best wrote. Not an easy task. I hope on her blog that she will delve into what, why and how she managed to write her book.


  1. I cannot cannot wait for my copy!!! I am so seriously excited!! Come on WiDo hurry up! LOL!!! :-)

    Take care

  2. I've ordered Ann's book and can't wait. Oh, and Karen, I just received Farm Girl and Uncut Diamonds yesterday. Sorry it took me so long to order, but life happens. Can't wait to read them.

  3. Karen, That is so cool! I hope you will post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, I need all the help I can get LOL.

    Old Kitty, Yeah! I read an ARC, when I get a print copy I plan on reading it again.

  4. LOVE your definition of 'memoir'

    Aloha from Honolulu

    Comfort Spiral





I don't post very often, but if you leave a comment I'll know someone is out there reading. And then I will post more! Bwa ha ha!