Monday, August 9, 2010

Memoir Writing: The Inside Story of - Part I

According to Writer’s Digest July/August 2010 issue, there is a viable market for Memoir writing. However, Literary Agents do not want to read another story about “lovely you”. They want the same page turning suspense and interest compelling fiction has. Literary Agent Byrd Leavell of Waxman Literary Agency asks “Why would John Q. Bookbrowser spend $25 and commit hours of his life reading about you? Answer that question and your golden.”

One thing Memoir writing has in common with fiction and non-fiction is the Query letter or Book proposal. Do your homework and pay special attention to guidelines. Some agents want proposals while some want queries.

A Few Key Points about Memoirs
  • Distinguish Hook from Theme
  • Know where your book fits
  • Break your story into Key pieces
  • Never underestimate the power of the smallest memory

Below is an opening/introduction draft to my memoir. Does it peak your interest or does it leave you looking for something else? Any thoughts?

It was August in L.A. 1962 and Billy Graham’s crusade was at the Coliseum. Here was my chance to challenge…. no….dare God to save me. I took a taxi from the all-girl boarding house I had moved into a few weeks earlier. As the majority of the crowd squeezed for seats near the stage, I climbed the molded concrete stairs to the nose bleed section to smoke. Truth was I didn’t want to make it easy for God to find me and I did not want to get too close to the power of the Word. The top row was my fig leaf. Besides if God was there He would reach me no matter how high I sat. 

I defied Reverend Graham’s words to touch me with Truth. The invitation was given; I lit another cigarette. “Sinner, come home”, Beverly Shea sang. I watched hundreds move forward toward the stage. God made it to L.A. that August but I didn’t leave with Him. I turned aside, squashed my cigarette onto the stadium steps and with a military toe heel turn I entered the wide gate to destruction.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” Matthew 7:13

Come back Wednesday for Part II – Memoir Writing - Don’t Gloss Over the Tough Stuff.

Truth is Stranger than Fiction,

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