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A critical building block of your memoir should be emotion.

This can be particularly difficult for boomers and seniors to incorporate in their life stories. Although many have an urge to tell their stories, they can be hampered by the constraints of privacy and circumspection their generation often absorbed as children.
40K ft above
I see this often when I teach boomers and seniors; truth be told, I suffer from it myself. We’re more comfortable telling our stories from 40,000 feet above the earth, as if they happened to someone else. We might have yelled, “Let it all hang out,” at some point in our youth, but we find it terribly difficult to do that now.

You Want Readers, Don’t You?
But your audience—even if it’s “just” family members—wants to know how you really felt, how it felt to experience the public and personal events you did.

Readers are seeking the emotional significance of and in your life. They want to connect with you. They’re not going along for the ride. They want to be part of the ride.

If you felt doubt or fear, your readers want to know it. Disgust? Show them what that was like. When you triumphed, if you triumphed, they want to hear the audience’s applause and ride the waves of victory with you.

As I tell my students, if you write a boring memoir or autobiography, not even family members will read it. They’ll avoid you at the next social function, just so they don’t have to admit that they fell asleep over your book before they got to page 5.

Make Sure Your Life Story is a Story
The next post will address another element of “story” in your memoir writing.

Share Your Story
And if you struggle to add emotion to your memoir writing or have a strategy for doing it without being too uncomfortable, please leave a comment!

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9 Responses to “Memoir Writing: One Important Element”

  1. Terry says:

    Your posts are inspiring me to begin writing a memoir. I already have a title but that’s it. Now that you have talked about “emotion” – I’m on board!!!

  2. lynpym says:

    So glad you like the memoir tips. (I’m all about memoir!) ;-) Yep, emotion’s what most writers leave out of their memoirs, so put yours in! A great book for memoir writing is, Your Life As Story.

    Tx for leaving a comment!

  3. […] as a movie. Create scenes. A scene takes place in one location. It contains dialog, action, and emotion. Scenes help reveal the characters’ personalities. (Yes, your memoir should have […]

  4. I had the most difficult time telling my story until I made it Real. Once I told it like it was it just flowed…

  5. Doreen, I’m so glad you left a comment. It took me to your site. Although I just read it briefly, I will go back to it; I want to know your story, sad as it is.

    Although you’re already a writer, I’m sending you Polish and Publish for leaving a comment. You can pass it on to a friend. :-)
    – Lynette

  6. Shirley says:

    Hi, Lynette. You are so right about emotion. This was a timely tip as I turn my attention to writing my outline and first chapters. I want to remember what it was like to be a child with emotion right on the surface. A childhood memoir without emotion? Not real.

  7. yup! “needs more emotion” is a frequent critique. glad to learn it’s not just me… thanks!

  8. […] Memoir Writing: One Important Element Supercharge Your Life Story with These Ideas […]

  9. Berta says:

    Lynette,
    I just found you through Flashmemoirs. Emotions and scenes are my downfall. My self-protecting wall hates to fall. You can connect to my devotional blog from my website to read more. Thanks for this post.

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