8 Tips to Help you Write a Great and Engaging Memoir

I often wonder, why do I blog memoirs? Is anyone interested in reading my memoirs? I am not a celebrity, then why would anyone be willing to read my memoirs?

However, when I look at my blog, I do realize that there are indeed readers who love to read my memoirs. In between, when I was blogging less frequently, I received messages from my readers asking if everything was fine with me.

I love it when readers share my posts. But the thing that I love the most is reading ‘meaningful‘ comments from my readers. I hate when they just drop an one liner like ‘nice post’ or ‘nice article’. I love when they relate to my memoirs and narrate a similar incident from their lives. That is when I feel the true connection with my readers.

In 2018, I published my first book ‘Golden Rainbow’, I was apprehensive that nobody would be interested to read my 26 memoirs. However, after two years, I can safely say that there are indeed readers for my memoirs. The reviews on Amazon assure that my ‘labor of love’ did’t get wasted.

Writing memoir may seem easy but writing an ‘engaging’ memoir is difficult. Many writers think that writing memoir means simply narrating incidents or feelings from the past. However, that may become boring for the readers. No wonder, many biographies fail to catch the attention

I created this blog to primarily write memoirs and travelogues (Well, travelogues are also a kind of memoir). After writing for more than three years, I have observed few things about writing a good and engaging memoir. Let me share those with you.

  • Write in first person

Ideally a memoir should be written in first person. As you are the narrator and one of the characters in the narrative, it is best to write in first person. However, there are memoirs written in second person and third person, e.g. Roland Barthes on Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes was a memoir written in third person.

  • A Memoir should tell a Story

An engaging memoir is one that tells a story. People love to read stories and memoirs are a form of ‘true stories‘ and people love to read about the interesting things that happened in someone else’s life.

  • Use Fiction Writing technique

A memoir should adopt the style of fiction writing. So use concepts like in medias res or other narrative style to capture the attention of your reader. Nobody likes to read a memoir that starts like ‘I woke up, brushed my teeth, had breakfast, went to office…’ It should have some story, suspense, humour, tragedy etc to make it interesting for the readers

  • A Memoir is not a diary so focus on the incident

As mentioned in the earlier point, a memoir is not like a diary when you just jot down what you did. Well, there are diaries that are hugely popular because they tell a story. Famous example being Anne Frank’s Diary. Therefore, try to focus on incidents rather than on routine stuff.

  • Be respectful to the people you are writing about in your memoir

Writing a memoir is tricky because unlike fiction you are dealing with real people. Therefore, try to be respectful to the people you mention in your memoir. Ideally, take their consent before writing. I personally change names of people to protect their identity. I may not like a person in real life but when I write about them I try to be respectful and not bash them through my writing.

  • Be objective

When writing a memoir try to be objective. Do not indulge in self pity and turn yourself into a tragedy king or queen. Similarly, do not turn yourself into a ‘knight in shining armor’. Do not boast about yourself. Try to be as objective as possible. Be self deprecating. Trust me readers love when you can laugh at yourself. Most of my popular posts are those where I have been self deprecating.

  • Exclude unnecessary details

It is important to be crisp in your writing and avoid unnecessary details. Your readers do not know you personally so they would like to get to the story fast. Unnecessary details and descriptions would bore them and they may skip reading your memoir.

  • Connect with your readers

Last but not the least is your ability to connect to your audience. As I mentioned earlier in this post that I love when audience can connect with my story. That is when they read and come back for more. The readers love to find a slice of their lives in your memoir. If they can relate they would be able to laugh or cry. And that would bring them back to your post.

29 thoughts on “8 Tips to Help you Write a Great and Engaging Memoir

  1. krish says:

    Good evening..
    I agree with you whatever one writes should be engaging…and it’s not easy to put on papers what actually is in mind….I have been indulging in writing some incidents of my life and can relate to what you have expressed….
    It’s all about good story telling…mixed with humour and emotion…to catch readers attention…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. writershilpa says:

    I have always loved reading your memoirs
    It’s what brought us close!
    I agree with all.that you have shared here Balaka. It’s what I learned and am still learning as I indulge in memoir writing these days.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ramya says:

    I also write travelogues, one type of memoirs on my blog. Your tips are useful especially, being objective. I read some biographies where people boast more about themselves or try to gain pity, which make this book uninteresting to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balaka says:

      Yes, when the writer become self obsessed then the memoir loses objectivity and boring. It is very important to write a memoir objectively. The writer should in some way detach from the incidents and write exactly the way a fiction is written.

      Like

  4. soniadogra says:

    I had no idea about your book. I’m so new here so maybe…Will check this out after the carnival. You do have a rather captivating style of putting forth your memoirs. And they are quite relatable. I haven’t ever thought of writing memoirs. Even if I do I mask them with third person narratives. I’m so shy to admit it’s me! You’ve outlined some great points. I shall have a look at them again and consider writing one at least.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Balaka says:

      You are a great writer. I am your fan. I am sure you would write a great memoir when you want to. If you are shy to write a memoir do not begin with something that is too personal rather start with some small incident that happened in school or college. Or about some interesting person you met somewhere. That would help you break the ice in writing memoirs.
      I know you are busy with your ebook launch. Once you settle down, do write a memoir and drop me a link. Would love to read.

      Like

  5. Dashy says:

    Agree with all your tips. I wasn’t too keen on reading memoirs earlier, or any non fiction, for the matter. But I realise now that they can be great reads too. I’ve reviewed a memoir in my latest post, in fact. Will pick up yours soon. ☺️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Balaka says:

      I personally love to read memoirs. I find them more engrossing. Few of my favorite are Becoming by Michele Obama, Open by Andre Agassi, memoirs by Tagore, Anna Frank, to name a few. There are also few memoirs masquerading as fiction, I love them too. For example Jhumpa Lahiri, God of small things by Arundhati Ray, Norwegian Wood by Murakami. Memoir or fiction all depends on the writing style…a shabby writer would not be able to do justice to either.
      I am grateful to know that you are willing to review my work. Humbled. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Tejal says:

    An apt time for me to read this post. Recently someone mentioned to me my blog is more like a memoir, i need to find a niche. On second thoughts i started writing it to capture some experiences, observations from my daily life. Yes, it cannot be a diary – again something I went to do when I first started blogging.. so my question can your blog be a memoir?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Balaka says:

      Yes, a blog can be a memoir. If you can carve out a niche audience then why not? There are many people who love to read memoirs and so they will become your audience.

      Like

  7. Anagha Yatin says:

    Stories from Golden Rainbow still resonate in my heart with their distinctive nature, Balaka. Back then, I used to look forward to meet and know a new person from your eyes and your written words.
    Being respectful of the person about whom we are writing about is one very important point. It is more about being a good human being at heart. And only a pure heart can write honest memoirs.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. the bespectacled mother says:

    Thank you for writing this post. I love reading your memoirs. You write brilliantly evoking humour and depth with equal ease. There was a time I thought I will write a memoir about something, maybe myself, but how is it done was the question. Can I go beyond I woke up, brushed my teeth, went to the kitchen, prepared tea and breakfast? All I can think beyond this is I had my tea and had my breakfast 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balaka says:

      I believe what you are writing is already some kind of memoir. It is memoir of recent past and when your grandchildren read them they would read as memoirs. Keep doing what you are doing best my dear. You are doing an amazing job.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Corinne Rodrigues says:

    Your connection with your readers comes from all the personal details you add to your ‘stories’ and how you make us smile, Balaka. Some memoirs can be so boring. There are some blogs out there that aim to be personal but seem to repeat the same old stuff. Yours is always new, thought provoking and straight from the heart. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balaka says:

      Awww…this comment means so much to me♥️♥️♥️🥰🥰🥰 you have been such a great mentor in my blogging journey, and I learnt so much from you. I also met so many wonderful bloggers through you. I cannot thank you enough 🥰🥰🥰

      Like

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