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Find Your Story, Write Your Memoir

Overview

Every person has a story to tell, but few beginners know how to uncover their story's narrative potential. And despite a growing interest among students and creative writers, few guides to the genre of memoirs and creative nonfiction highlight compelling storytelling strategies. Addressing this gap, authors Lynn C. Miller and Lisa Lenard-Cook provide a compact, accessible guide to memoir writing that shows how an aspiring memoir writer can use storytelling tools and tactics borrowed from fiction to weave personal...

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Find Your Story, Write Your Memoir

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Overview

Every person has a story to tell, but few beginners know how to uncover their story's narrative potential. And despite a growing interest among students and creative writers, few guides to the genre of memoirs and creative nonfiction highlight compelling storytelling strategies. Addressing this gap, authors Lynn C. Miller and Lisa Lenard-Cook provide a compact, accessible guide to memoir writing that shows how an aspiring memoir writer can use storytelling tools and tactics borrowed from fiction to weave personal experiences into the shape of a story.
            Find Your Story, Write Your Memoir offers an overview of the building blocks of memoir writing. Individual chapters focus on key issues and challenges, such as the balance between the remembering narrator and the experiencing narrator, the capacity to honor the subjective voice, the occasion of telling (why does this narrator tell this story now?), creating an organically functional structure for a particular story, and taking the next steps with a written memoir. Drawing on their combined years of experience teaching memoir writing, authoring works of fiction and nonfiction, and working in autobiographical performance, Miller and Lenard-Cook provide a practical guide whose core philosophy is motivated by a key word: story.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A remarkably compact, efficient, complete, and helpful guide to writing memoirs. I plan to use it in my own teaching."—Rachel Hadas, author of Strange Relation: A Memoir of Marriage, Dementia, and Poetry

"Find Your Story, Write Your Memoir is original, taking its standpoint on memoir writing from the craft of fiction, and integrating research about memory, narrative theory, and concepts important to performance studies."—Craig Gingrich-Philbrook, author of Loss: Stories about the End of Things

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299293147
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 3/8/2013
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 146
  • Sales rank: 680,409
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynn C. Miller is the author of the novels Death of a Department Chair and The Fool's Journey and coeditor of Voices Made Flesh: Performing Women's Autobiography. A playwright and solo performer, she is former professor of theater and dance as well as women's and gender studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Lisa Lenard-Cook is the PEN-shortlisted author of Dissonance, Coyote Morning, and The Mind of Your Story. She is a faculty member at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and at the Narrative Arts Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Together, they cofounded ABQ Writers Co-op, a creative community for Southwest writers.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
 
1 The Occasion of the Telling: "It Begins Here because It's about This"
A Place to Stand
Is It an Autobiography, or Is It a Memoir?
It's about the Storyteller
Reliability and the Narrator
Telling the Truth in Memoir
The Occasion of the Telling and Organizing the Memoir
She Died, so I Remember
And Then, in an Instant, Everything Changed
Now and Then, Then and Now
Consequence and the Occasion of the Telling
Exercises: Now, You Begin
2 The Two Yous: Finding a Place to Stand
The Remembering Self
The Experiencing Self
The Dance of the Two Yous
The Power of Testifying
Taking Yourself by the Hand
Negotiating Duality
Sensory Cues as Keys to Memory
Using Language and Imagery to Move between the Two Yous
The Nature of Memory
Further Spotlight Exercises
3 Building a Narrative: Laying Down the Bones
Beginning Your Story
Catalysts and Conflicts
Mapping the Tension
Examples of Structures
Chronological Structure
Circular Structure
Associative Structure
Collage Structure
Parallel Structure
Locational Structure
Choosing a Structure
You and Your Audience
Creating the World of Your Story
Structure and Understanding
Additional Spotlight Exercises
4 Arranging the Scenes: Giving Them Muscle
Dramatic Structure
Ordering the Scene
Catalyst
Conflict
Rising Action
Reversals
Climax
Denouement
Particularizing the Moment
Internal Action
External Action
The Emblematic Scene
Putting It All Together
Further Spotlight Exercises
5 Painting the Picture: Language and Setting
The Magic of Imagery
Using Figurative Language
Language and Sense of Place
Setting as Metaphor
Place as Time Period
Language as Action
Controlling Time
Dialogue
Silence
The Secrets of Subtext
6 Your Story, Your Voice: Make It Your Own
The First-Person Voice
Between Experience and Remembering
Beyond First Person
Your Two Voices
You, the Narrator
You, the Character
Voices of the Masters
"She Opened Herself Up a Worm Farm"
"The Fortuneteller Was Not Guilty"
"Reveal[ing] Those Demons That Obsess Him"
The Shadowy Personage Who Commits the Actual Writing
"The Capsules of Safety, and Freedom"
Your Story, Your Voice
You Are the Camera
Using What You Don't Know
7 Honoring the Memoir Process: Taking the Next Steps
Re-visioning Your Manuscript
Read It Aloud
Put It Away
Take It out of the Closet
An Editorial Checklist
The Occasion of the Telling
The Two Yous
Building a Narrative
Arranging the Scenes
Painting the Picture
Your Story, Your Voice
Honoring the Memoir Process
Other People, Other Rooms
Claiming Responsibility for Your Story
The Ethics of Guilt
What's Next?
Bringing Your Story into Public Space
Your Story, Your Book
 
Appendix: Spotlight Exercises by Chapter
Glossary
BibliographyOther Suggested Memoirs

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