Wednesday, March 4, 2015

On reading memoirs

Some thoughts I've had while reading memoirs and autobiographies:

--Do not start with the grandparents and then take us chronologically through the next two generations to the main subject. Slip in the backstory gradually.
--Not every event and detail is of equal importance.
--We don't need to know about every single friend, relative, teacher, co-worker, etc. If we must "meet" a lot of people, introduce them slowly, not all at once, or we will never keep them straight.
--Tie every scene to the underlying theme(s) of the book. (I'm reading one now that does this very well.)
--Pay more attention to why than how.
--Interpret some. Allow the reader room for interpretation, too.
--Examine your motives.
--If there's something you don't want to delve into, leave it out altogether. Don't hint at it and then fail to explore it.
--Help us understand the connections, the causes and effects.

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