Memoirs

Scribbler's Guild is a hub for senior writers where you can find a wealth of information, articles and resources on how to write memoirs so you can leave a legacy for future generations.

  • Productivity,  Structure and Plotting

    What Were You Thinking???

    More often than not, when writers start writing about a subject, we have no clue what it is we plan to say.    “I write to find out what I think.” ― Stephen King   “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” — Joan Didion Sure, we can put together an outline that gives us a rough roadmap, but until we actually sit down and start the ideation process, we can’t possibly know what our thoughts are until we have them on the page or screen in front of us. Only…

  • Productivity

    Breaking the Procrastination Habit

    First, let’s see if we can figure out what procrastination is and why we do it. Where does it come from? What purpose does it serve?   Procrastination has been described as “a voluntary delay of an intended act despite the nagging awareness that we’ll pay for it later”.    Even though we know avoidance is a self-defeating coping mechanism, it feels better in the moment to turn our backs on what we know to be the right choice in favour of something that’s less emotionally challenging.   Procrastination and avoidance act as short-term mood improvements. They’re immediately gratifying. They allow us to escape the proposed task and its associated…

  • Humour,  Memoirs,  Thoughts, Opinions and Philosophical Discussions

    Showing Off

    Entrepreneurs (and if we want to be published, we writers are all entrepreneurs aren’t we?) are often told, “Face your fear, get over yourself, just do it.”   But it sometimes helps to look at the fear and figure out exactly what it is that we’re afraid of.   Recently, I was challenged to post some of my own memoir pieces, short stories, here on my blog — in particular, a story about my short-lived career as a shoplifter at age 6.   Immediately, I felt reluctant. I didn’t want to, not because I thought it wasn’t any good, but because I didn’t want to show off.   Which is a…

  • Productivity,  Thoughts, Opinions and Philosophical Discussions,  Writers and Writing

    Perfectionism and Writer’s Block — It’s All About the Baby Steps, Baby!

    This week, I’ve been trying to come up with a riveting blog post idea and I’ve spent nearly two hours dithering, avoiding the problem. Rather than picking one of the hundreds of topics I’ve collected for times like this, I logged onto Joseph Michaels’  UnChained Writers, my favourite online chat group for writers, where I knew I would find others who’d understand and commiserate when I whined and complained about how stuck I was feeling.   “Why do we do that to ourselves?” I said, and gave myself a little pep talk…“Okay, goofball! Just pick one and run with it. Something will come out of it, even if it’s not…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Coincidence

    Deus Ex Machina Last week’s post pointed out that little coincidental changes can alter the entire trajectory of a story. But at what point does coincidence become “deus ex machina” — defined by the Oxford dictionary as, “an unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a contrived plot device in a play or novel”?   The key here is the word “contrived”. Last week, I said, “Our lives hinge on these coincidences.”   But herein lies a problem for writers. We can’t use them. We can’t dump a convenient coincidence into our story whenever we need something to change. We can’t simply insert a character or…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Change It Up!

    This article comes out of a conversation I had with a writer who couldn’t decide what should go into two related scenes:   Dor: I’ve got two scenes fighting with each other. So not nice! Bev: What’s the key point in each scene? How can you differentiate the scenes to accentuate the point? Dor: It’s a sequence of two scenes as a big storm is about to hit. So I’m mostly combing for timeline consistency. Two characters, one makes a suggestion and the other resists. Then in the second scene (a few beats later in the time line) the other character takes the bait and goes overboard with the suggestion.…

  • Theme, Purpose and Outcome,  Training, Lessons

    Theme Rules Everything

    Figuring out the theme of your memoir can feel like catching a greased piglet, partly because of the confusing variety of terminology that refers to themes in storytelling. It might help to explain the difference between several different terms that are used to describe this notoriously difficult-to-grasp subject:  •  Thematic Premise — Your plot. Some human quality, activity or character trait leads (or does not lead) to a particular inevitable conclusion. Based on core values and beliefs, the premise can be expressed as an “elevator pitch” that includes character, the basic story idea and what’s at stake.  •  Thematic Statement — Your message. A thematic statement is a simple, powerful…

  • Creative Writing,  Organization and Research,  Point of View and Character Development,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Cause and Effect

    One of the most effective ways to create a compelling plotline with a strong narrative drive is to make sure your cause and effect chain remains unbroken.   What do I mean by the cause and effect chain?   In stories, as in life, things happen because other things happen. If you fall down, you skin your knee. Your knee would not be injured if you hadn’t fallen down. That’s cause and effect.   In stories, cause and effect are a kind of glue that holds your story together. Without it, your story is merely a collection of random incidents and your reader eventually becomes bored because things happen for…

  • Creative Writing,  Memoirs,  Training, Lessons

    Repeat After Me…

    The Power of Focus in Writing Too much repetition is bad, except when it’s not. Too much detail is bad, except when it’s not.   So, what do I mean by that?   Often, we weaken our writing by repeating words and phrases without being consciously aware that we’re doing so, but the proper use of repetition can help strengthen our writing, give it more impact and make it more memorable.    The same is true for unnecessarily detailed descriptions. There’s a time and place for both of these techniques when we use them to focus our readers’ attention on something in the narrative.   In our brain, we have…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Theme, Purpose and Outcome,  Training, Lessons

    Think Big, But Write Small

    There’s an overall shape to a book-length story that we’ve come to expect — certain elements fall into certain places at certain times during the course of the story, and we’ve learned, even if subconsciously, to anticipate this underlying structure.     Everything in a story is connected. Think of your book as a fractal. This may help you stay on track with the multitude of ideas and abstract concepts that go into a book that’s as introspective as a memoir.   Six Elements 1. Story — A memoir is a story built around one main idea, theme or point.    2. Chapters — Within a story, there may be…