By Dennis Lowery
One of the most frequent questions I get is, "I want to write my memoirs or a story about my life, how do I start?"
Real lives can have twists and turns that no fiction writer could ever dream up. I routinely speak and correspond with people that truly have fascinating life stories. If written, their story will make an excellent book. They all ask the question I opened with above.
The best memoirs (most popular commercially) are those written just like telling a story. They start with the main character in a serious/dangerous situation to hook the reader and get them engaged and curious as to "what happens next". That is my primary approach when ghostwriting a memoir for a client. Judgment on using that approach depends on the content of the story (the events in the client's life) or if the client has a specific flow they want the narrative to have.
For those of you who want to write your story; within your journals/notes on your life or memory find a critical moment and event that stands out. Try to get that down, even in rough, for your first block of writing -- to get things rolling. Then using the rest of your notes and remembrances you get all the components of your story down on paper (or digitally). They do not have to look pretty and perfect (writing is a process of iterative refinement). Once you have those building blocks you can arrange them into logical sequences and add transitions between them so you can carry the reader through your story. Understand that what you've started with may not end up the opening of your final story and book; determining that comes after you've written a rough draft and you go through re-writes to polish the story.
With a starting point, you can build momentum to continue writing and complete your story. The journey of a 1,000 miles starts with a single step! Remember writing a book (your story) is done one word-one sentence at a time!
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