by successful freelance writer, author, and writing instructor Paul Lima, Tell Your Story is
a book about how to write your memoir or autobiography -- in other
words, how to tell your story by writing it. But
why tell you about it when I can let the introduction
to the book speak for
itself. (And, if so inclined, you can read about Paul's memoir, The Accidental Writer, here.)
to Write Memoirs and Autobiographies
Introduction to Tell Your Story
I’ve done it. I’ve written my memoir, The Accidental Writer.
It contains sex. It contains violence (a bit). It contains writing. And
there is more in the book that happened more or less by accident in my
life -- like how I became an accidental dad and accidental dog lover.
As the author, I am biased, but I feel I’ve produced an
entertaining and engaging book -- a fun read with serious overtones.
had a blast writing it and feel that anybody over 50 should write their
memoir, as I told a writer I know. He said something that got me
thinking. He said, “My memoir would be as boring as watching
paint dry.” (Yes, writers are allowed to use
reply was immediate: “When writing your memoir, or your
autobiography, you leave the boring bits out!” In other
words, you are not writing everything that ever happened to you. If I
were to write a truly comprehensive autobiography even I, the writer,
would fall asleep before I finished writing chapter one.
that in mind, the first thing you need to decide is what you a going to
write: a memoir or autobiography. Also, figure out why you are going to
write it, what you are going to include (and leave out) and who you are
going to write it for.
instance, my memoir, while of interest to family and friends, is aimed
at other writers. They would be the ones most interested in how I
became a writer, even though I became one accidentally.
is why this book will help you determine what you should write, why you
should write it and who you should write it for. It will also help you
conduct internal research -- research into you -- and get down on paper
all that you might want to include in your book. In fact, it will help
you discover more about yourself than you will want to include in your
book. And that, as any writer will tell you, is a good place to be --
with more information in front of you than you need to write about.
the book will help you get focused and organized. You will outline the
chapters you want to write and create an outline for each chapter. As a
professional writer for 40 years, and one with twenty-two books to my
name, I can tell you that once I have a detailed outline in front of
me, it's all over but the writing. And that is a point anybody writing
anything wants to be at before actually writing. It's just that people
who are new to writing don't know that they want their book to be all
over but the writing before they begin to write.
there will be a bit about actual writing too. And in conclusion, there
will be a final section on self-publishing -- something more and more
people are doing to get their books out there.
many other self-help books, Tell
makes no outlandish promises of riches or mega-success, other than to
say that you will produce a solid first draft of your book if you
follow that process outlined here and devote a couple of hours a day to
the process of writing your book.
you feel like you've been spinning your wheels, this book will get you
grounded and focused. It will show you how to turn who you are into a
book about you, which is what I presume you want to do because you have
purchased a book entitled Tell Your Story.
1 / Memoir versus Autobiography
2 / The Writing Process
3 / Before You Start
4 / Structure of Memoir/Autobiography
5 / Initial Story Research
6 / What Is A Book?
7 / Pre-Writing Exercises
8 / Brainstorming and Clustering
9 / Preparation
10 / Research
11 / Initial Clustering
12 / Focused Clustering
13 / Outlining Your Book
14 / Continuing to Outline
15 / Writing and Editing
16 / Sentences and Paragraphs
17 / A Tale of Self-Publishing
About the Author
by Paul Lima