In a short amount of space, Writing Memoir: The Practical Guide to Writing and Publishing the Story of Your Life educates the aspiring memoir writer on every aspect of book construction, including pitches, themes, writing techniques and publishing. Author Jerry Payne does not sugarcoat the facts of book publishing, but holds the reader’s hand as they start with a concept for a memoir and develop a manuscript. Included in the book are reasons why people might write a memoir, advice on how to stick to the facts of a story while honoring private names and places, writing tips, examples of story structures, and how to outline. There are invaluable examples of other memoirs, as well as what to do when you are finished writing. Writers, experienced and new, should find something helpful in this book.
Reading Writing Memoir: The Practical Guide to Writing and Publishing the Story of Your Life happened to coincide with a class I’m taking on memoir writing and nonfiction. I have to say that this book is more straightforward and entertaining than my class textbook, and I indeed learned more through Jerry Payne’s examples and advice. Some of the highlights would include the perfect start to finish the structure of the book, the advice to connect with a reader and make the memoir less about you, and the editing and publishing advice toward the end of the book. Many books of this genre do not offer that kind of help for the reader. All in all, this book was a delight to read, extremely informative, and will no doubt help me with my own writing endeavors. I recommend it to anyone looking to start a memoir for any reason, whether as a family keepsake or to sell to the public.