Memoir: Go Small to Go Big Later, by Christine Houser

If you’ve never visited the web site,, the post below will give you a hint of what you’ve been missing.

As a memoir writing instructor, I make sure I take frequent looks at the latest news and advice from my guest blog post writer, Christine Houser. After reading her tips, I think you’ll find yourself visiting often, too.
– Lynette

Christine Houser, blogger at

Christine Houser, blogger at

I find that breaking most projects down into small, specific pieces makes for greater success, and writing is no exception. To tell your big life story, you have to tell many smaller stories – and going small requires an emphasis on good storytelling.

So what are some good storytelling techniques, you ask? Pick a scene you want to write, and try using these tips:

• Dispense with the preamble and start in the middle of the action to immediately engage your reader. You can imply or briefly describe some context later.
• Keep your storyline small and well contained.
• Use the active voice.
• Don’t name emotions or draw conclusions. Instead, describe them so your reader arrives at the same understanding.
• Ensure that every sentence furthers the story.
• For extra credit, employ a twist to surprise and further engage your reader.

Here are a few great flash-story samples that illustrate these tips:

After you’ve written some short stories or scenes, you can join them with a longer narrative or compile them into a volume. And don’t forget to free-write the first draft of every story – this too is a very important storytelling step.

Christine Houser reads, writes, studies, and teaches flash-length creative nonfiction in Seattle, and blogs at For good story fodder, she travels widely and unabashedly eavesdrops while on the San Juan Island ferries.

Find her on Twitter @flashmemoirs and #lifewriting.

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6 thoughts on “Memoir: Go Small to Go Big Later, by Christine Houser

  1. I have written short scenes about powerful moments in my life, just to capture the details for myself. Now I have a name for them! Thank you, Christine, and thank you, Lynette, for hosting her!

  2. Pingback: Go small to go big later | FlashMemoirs

  3. Lynette, I know this is an old post, but I loved your interview with Christine. I so want to go to the link you have here but it is no longer working. Do you know what Christine’s website is now? Thanks so much. I find your blog an invaluable tool!

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