Writing Books/Memoirs


I'm currently in the process of getting materials together to prepare a book on memoirs.  I'm including the terrible life my parents, brothers, and sisters had growing up in a small abandoned mining camp in West Virginia.  I'm also including my children and their children.  The title I've come up with, about the 5th one, is FAMILY--STRUGGLES AND CHALLENGES with a sub-title of 1922 to Present.   Am I going in the right direction?  Should I write stories of all the prople I mentioned above?

Thanks for your inquiry, Phyllis.

Your first task is to determine why you are writing these stories. Healing? Set the record straight? Legacy for children and grandchildren? Personal enjoyment? Get back at people (not a good one)? Become a best-selling author? Your purpose in writing will be the best way to determine what you write.

Based on what you are telling me, you may have a family history rather than a memoir. A memoir is more narrow in scope. It usually covers a short period of time, say your teenage years, or a theme such as your military service.

Visit online or your local library for some books on writing memoirs. Join a writing club in your community; your librarian will know of one. In your computer's browser, search for how to write a memoir. Also, pick up some good memoirs at your library and see how they do it. Your librarian can recommend several. By the way, memoirs are all of the spectrum of topics, writing styles, and length.

The National Association of Memoir Writers offers a free report, Write Your Memoir Now, when you subscribe to its free newsletter. Go to http://www.namw.org/.

Your title does not invite me to read your book. Here is an excellent article on how to title your book, fiction or nonfiction, regardless of whether you plan to offer your book to a publisher: http://www.rachellegardner.com/2010/03/how-to-title-your-book/.  

Best wishes for every success.  

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Wayne Groner


I can answer questions on all aspects of writing memoirs, biographies, family histories, and corporate histories including handling sensitive issues, interviewing, editing, self-publishing, and setting up a business as a memoir writer.


I have more than twenty-five years of experience as a radio and television news reporter, author, freelance writer, and workshop presenter. I present classes to nonprofits and professional groups, "How to Write Your Memoir or Life Story." I'm author of four nonfiction books. My latest book is A Guide to Writing Your Memoir or Life Story: Tools, Tips, Methods and Examples, available in paperback and eBook at Amazon. I'm past president of Springfield Writers' Guild (Missouri). My articles and book reviews on a variety of topics have been published in national magazines and on the Web. I was a senior-level college administrator for twenty-seven years, including nine years as a vice president, during which I wrote newsletters, brochures, magazine articles, and published and edited an alumni magazine.

Missouri Center for the Book, Springfield Writers' Guild, Greene County Historical Society, Christian County Historical Society.

Books: Witnesses of Hope, Faith, Love and Healing; Dumb Luck or Divine Guidance; The Pastor's Guide to Fund-raising Success; Levell-Drew Family History. National magazines including CASE Currents, Congregations, Ozarks Mountaineer, Your Community Hospice, Power and Light series of Sunday-school curriculum for adult learners.

Graceland College

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