• Memoir

  • Jane

    August 28, 2020 at 10:36 AM

    Hi all,

    Anyone else writing memoir? I’ve got an 85k-ish draft manuscript on the go. I’m trying to overhaul the structure at the moment…as well as several other things! I started out dividing it into four or five areas, then merged it into a more chronological timeline, but now I’m unpicking it again. I think I was a pantser in the early drafts just to get the words out and down, then saw it as a whole, got some initial feedback, and now I need to switch to plotting and picking out the bits that will be (hopefully) of most interest to readers. It’s been quite the process and quite time consuming, and if I could go back in time, I would possibly have tried to plan and plot more! Good timing to be beta using this course 🙂


  • Emily

    August 28, 2020 at 9:16 PM

    Hi Jane,

    I’ve never written a memoir but it sounds like you’re writing your way into your story, which is what I tend to do. I think you’re going about it the right way, as in going back and looking for the juicy bits in your memoir!

    This is a pretty tedious stage of the writing process, because you’re working out the structure of your book. I’m doing the same at the moment with a novel and some days I feel like tearing my hair out 🙂

    Have you given all or parts of your manuscript to a trusted reader? Sometimes it’s good to have some distance from you. You could try this after you redraft, perhaps?

    Also, it’s never to late to plan. In fact, while you’re redrafting is the perfect time for it.

    Good luck and thanks for being the first to chat!

    • Jane

      August 31, 2020 at 1:53 PM

      Hi Emily,

      Yes, hopefully if I can narrow it further to what was of interest to my five beta readers, I can condense and/or cull the rest. That’s what I’ve found helpful, re ‘killing the darlings’, to know I’ll still have a complete version I can keep for myself, but now it’s a process of revising and editing for the reader. I read/saw some estimate of it being 90:10 or 80:20, re 10-20% of your time writing and 80-90% on the revisions and edits, and I agree! I also saw a YouTube interview with an author who said “writing a book is easy” and I was like what!

      All the best for your project too, it sounds interesting.

      I’m enjoying the course so far.


  • Kate

    August 29, 2020 at 9:12 AM

    Hi Jane. I’m writing a memoir but it’s not why I’m here. My younger self kept begging for a young adult novel to be written so that’s why I’m here.

    I understand what you are saying with your memoir. I have over 100k words I wrote as blog posts before the idea to write a memoir was suggested to me. Not coming from a writing background, I’ve spent years learning how to rewrite them into a book. And recently realised, rather than try to shuffle and edit, I should rewrite from the beginning, (now I’m not quite so clueless.)

    • Jane

      August 31, 2020 at 1:59 PM

      Hi Kate,

      I don’t have a writing background either, so good to hear there are a few of us having a crack. If you’re turning a blog into a book that sounds like a fun type of project. All the best with it, and the YA novel too.


  • Esther

    August 29, 2020 at 12:05 PM

    Hi Jane! I write memoir. I’m early stages because I have started it so so many times. But I think I wanted to understand my story and a bit of the narrative arc before I began so that I could work from a premise. I feel like I have more of that now, but words on the page are a good thing! I agree with Emily, it’s never too late to plan. You’ve got stuff to work with, and I’m not sure there’s any wrong or right way, just learning what works best for you.

    • Jane

      August 31, 2020 at 2:13 PM

      Hi Esther,

      That sounds great, having worked out what you want to focus on before getting too far into it. I gave my beta readers the warts and all and a ‘word vommit’ early draft version, the poor things! Like Emily said, it helps having trusted readers who have distance from it, to say hints like some of the more minor bits can go. It’s comforting to know there are a few of us meandering and muddling through, that there isn’t a set way, but we can learn from each other, and courses like this!

      All the best with your memoir.


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