Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir [NOOK Book]


Everyone has a story to tell. Fearless Confessions is a guidebook for people who want to take possession of their lives by putting their experiences down on paper-or in a Web site or e-book. Enhanced with illustrative examples from many different writers as well as writing exercises, this guide helps writers navigate a range of issues from craft to ethics to marketing and will be useful to both beginners and more accomplished writers.

The rise of interest in memoir recognizes ...

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Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir

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Everyone has a story to tell. Fearless Confessions is a guidebook for people who want to take possession of their lives by putting their experiences down on paper-or in a Web site or e-book. Enhanced with illustrative examples from many different writers as well as writing exercises, this guide helps writers navigate a range of issues from craft to ethics to marketing and will be useful to both beginners and more accomplished writers.

The rise of interest in memoir recognizes the power of the genre to move and affect not just individual readers but society at large. Sue William Silverman covers traditional writing topics such as metaphor, theme, plot, and voice and also includes chapters on trusting memory and cultivating the courage to tell one's truth in the face of forces-from family members to the media-who would prefer that people with inconvenient pasts and views remain silent.

Silverman, an award-winning memoirist, draws upon her own personal and professional experience to provide an essential resource for transforming life into words that matter. Fearless Confessions is an atlas that contains maps to the remarkable places in each person's life that have yet to be explored.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820336060
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 1/25/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 660,974
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Sue William Silverman is a faculty advisor at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and the associate editor of the journal Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction. Her first book, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You (Georgia), received the AWP Award in Creative Nonfiction. She is also the author of Love Sick: One Woman's Journey through Sexual Addiction (made into a Lifetime TV movie) and Hieroglyphics in Neon, a collection of poems.

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Table of Contents

Preface xiii

One The Longest Paragraph 1

Writing Exercises

Two Savory Words: The First Bite of Your Story 10

Don't Just State Your Story - Reveal Your Story

Move Readers with Active Words

Following a Sensory Trail

Writing Exercises

A Note on Genre

For Your Reading Pleasure: "Candy Cigarettes," Anne Panning 21

Three Writing on Key: A Few Notes about Theme 23

False Starts

Starting True

The Colors We Choose

Writing Exercises

For Your Reading Pleasure: "Rob Me Again," Katherine Jamieson 32

Four Plotting Your Life 35

Finding the Arc of Your Story

Motivating Your Plot

Thunderous Plots

The Structure of Plot

Crossing the Finish Line

Turning Real Life into Art

Writing Exercises

For Your Reading Pleasure: "Scavengers," Katy Read 47

Five Between Innocence and Experience: Finding Your Voice(s) 50

Using Multiple Voices

Your Everyday Voice and Your Literary Voice

Guiding Voices

Writing Exercises

For Your Reading Pleasure: "The Visit," Candance L. Greene 66

Six Mock Moons and Metaphor: Crafting Memoir into Art 68

Finding Your Metaphors

The Metaphoric Memoir

Metaphor: A Window onto the World

Writing Exercise

For Your Reading Pleasure: "Tetanus, You Understand?" Ellen Morris Prewitt 79

Seven Writing in Style 83

Your Story, Your Style

The Muscular Sentence

More Than Just And

Not To Be

Dialogue in Memoir

Past or Present Tense?

These Boots Are Made for Writing

Writing Exercise

For Your Reading Pleasure: "The Man behind the Shower Curtain," Julie Mullany 97

Eight Marketing Your Memoir 98

Getting Started

Publishing Outlets: Pros and Cons of Each

How to DecideWhat's Best for Your Book

Promoting Yourself as a Professional Speaker

Web Opportunities for Your Memoir

The Importance of All Our Voices

Writing Exercises

Nine Confessional and (Finally) Proud of It 112

Western Civilization in an Eggshell

One Secret, One Word, at a Time

Word by Word

The Courage to Show This to Your Mother (Penance Optional)

Truth and Memory in Memoir

What Readers Understand about Memoirs

What the Media Doesn't Understand about Confessional Stories

A Hysterical [sic] History of Criticism

Writing Exercises

Appendix One The Meandering River: An Overview of the Subgenres of Creative Nonfiction 143

Port of Call 1 Biography

Port of Call 2 Autobiography

Port of Call 3 Immersion

Port of Call 4 Memoir

Port of Call 5 Personal Essay

Port of Call 6 Meditative Essay

Port of Call 7 Lyric Essay

Toward the Sea

Waters Ebb and Flow

Appendix Two Three Confessional Essays 158

"From Process to Product: Using Print-on-Demand to Publish," Lynn C. Tolson 158

"Gazing: Writing from the Womb," Karen Salyer McElmurray 163

"The Weight of a Word," Michelle Otero 169

Appendix Three For Your Reading Pleasure: Four Full-Length Essays 174

"Independence Day, Manley Hot Springs, Alaska," Lisa D. Chavez 175

"After the Dash," Michael Hemery 183

"The Beautiful City of Tirzah," Harrison Candelaria Fletcher 189

"The Pat Boone Fan Club" Sue William Silverman 201

Appendix Four Reading List of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction 212

Works Cited 231

Biographical Notes 235

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2009

    Tell your story!

    If you have ever thought about writing your story, but thought:
    I can't do that
    I don't know how to write
    What will my mother say?
    I have nothing to say anyway

    then this book was written for you.

    This book is the antidote for all of the voices that demand silence, be they literary critics or family members. Sue Silverman not only guides the reader through the thorny issues of telling the "truth" in memoir, but she also provides real, practical guidelines for writing better prose, as well as innovative ways to market your work. The result is an inspiring, funny, and incredibly insightful book. I particularly loved her writing exercises and the example essays that she chose to illustrate her various points.

    Silverman also has first-hand experience in writing about "confessional" subject matter--she's the author of two memoirs, one about growing up in an incestuous family, and one about sex addiction. Her gentle prodding--"Write anyway! Whatever the roadblock. Write anyway!" is backed up by solid information and great advice. Her critique of literary and pop cultural denigration of memoir is sharp and to the point, and among the best I've ever read.

    Sue's book is a gift to us all. I'm grateful that she wrote it, and that I had the opportunity to read it--and now I've got to get back to work on my memoir.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Fearless Confessions is Go-To guide for memoir

    Sue William Silverman was my role model for memoir because she had dared to write about issues usually silenced in our society. (see) Then, I had the pleasure of meeting her at Vermont College of Fine Arts, post-graduate writer's conference, where she was faculty/advisor. She taught the group metaphor, voice, and technique, and encouraged expression from the writer within each individual. Sue urged us toward Fearless Confessions, an apt title for the Writer's Guide to Memoir. Despite my notes from the conference, and hand-outs from Sue, I wished I had a "go-to" guide at my fingertips. Sue has made such a guide available in Fearless Confessions.

    The book contains chapters that have writing exercises and inserts with tips. Sue also arranged for appropriate articles by other authors, which exemplify what Sue is conveying in the body of the chapter. Sue generously offers examples of her own. I was especially moved by her revealing essay The Pat Boone Fan Club. That is what a memoirist does: revealing life matter that one thinks is individual, yet the emotions are universal. Some confessional memoirs put into words what others are thinking, but are afraid to say aloud. Sue dares us to dig deep and write down, such as with an exercise that asks the reader to "Write a short paragraph about a secret you've never told anyone, except maybe a therapist."

    Sue explains the craft of writing, and elements such as "the voice of innocence" and "the voice of experience" She leads us to websites, books, marketing opportunities, and publishing options. (note of disclosure: Sue used my essay From Process to Product: Using Print-on-Demand to Publish in Appendix two).

    I eagerly awaited Fearless Confessions because I wanted to hold Sue Silverman's knowledge and ability in the palm of my hand. Sue packs more in 237 pages than I ever expected. If you want to write a memoir, let Sue's "go-to" guide you to write it right.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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