- Micky Flynn
- From: Boston
- Registered: 07-04-2012
- Posts: 33
Basic questions about a memoir
I am working on converting 60 or so stories about growing up into a book. My questions are below and your opinion is appreciated. Don't feel the need to answer all of them, please do if you can.
How many words would an ideal chapter be ? I don't want them to be too long, most of the stories are around the 5000 word mark.
I put them in the order that they occured. I don't like it. Is there any examples of books I can read where I can see how the authur was able to write chapters out of order and you felt it worked well ? i know I have seen this before, I just can't recall who did this well.
I have made a full commitment to be completely honest in this book, not just what happened, but with how I felt as well. When I look at some of what I wrote when I was younger, I can see that I was full of shit,( sorry for that swear word, but it seems the only phrase that fits) trying to convince the reader, or myself that I was something I was not. I lacked the courage to expose when I was weak or selfish etc... It irks me when I sense that an auther does this.
Is it less than honest if I publish a memoir as fiction? On one hand I say no, but on the other I feel like when somebody gives me credit for a character being authentic, it makes me feel like I am taking credit for creativity that I respect and admire, but don't have myself.
I have more questions, but in an effort to avoid abusing the generosity of the forum members, I'll ask those another time
It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."
- Registered: 12-27-2007
- Posts: 3358
Re: Basic questions about a memoir
Hello, Mickey, I'll answer some of your questions as the opinion of another "memoir" writer. First, I think the number of words per chapter is irrelevant. It takes the number to tell that part of the story, period; mine went/goes from maybe a couple thousand to the 5-6 thousand range (guestimates, didn't go back to check exactly). If there is a problem with length, a future agent/editor/publisher will let you know it needs adjustment for their purposes. On this site some reviewers prefer shorter works, but that is just personal preference, nothing to do with any rules or standards.
Yes, memoirs can be written as fiction, mine is. It didn't stop me from winning the 2010 strongest start competition on this site in the "Memoir" category. Nothing dishonest about it. Me, I stated it up front and used all fictional names, etc. There are many stories which state, "based upon a true story" - those would be considered fictionalized memoir in my opinion. It is the story which matters and it is only the author's recollection which isn't and can't always be entirely accurate. Someone else might remember the same events differently just as ten people will give ten different accounts of the same accident.
Hope that helps. Good luck. Take care. Vern
PS: Oops, forgot about the order. That doesn't matter as long as the reader isn't confused. I have several flashbacks and actually had reviewers read the chapters out of order and tell me it didn't interfere with following the events or their enjoyment of the story. Each chapter is a story in itself but a continueing thread runs through them, kind of a story within stories concept which used to be quite favorable in works such as the Canterbury Tales and The Arabian Nights.
Last edited by vern (07-16-2012 06:00:25)
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