The Difference Between a Memoir and an Autobiography? VIDEO

I once had a client who wanted to write their memoir, but their wife told them that they were still too young. This reaction is an excellent example of how people misunderstand the difference between a memoir and an autobiography.

I can sum up an autobiography quickly, but memoir has more facets to explore. An autobiography is a person’s life story. It begins when they began and ends at their writing of said story. They usually start with, “I was born…” blah blah blah, or even backs up to mention one’s parents’ origins. It then travels through the highlights of a person’s life and into mid life to their silver or golden years.

An autobiography is usually nauseatingly chronological. A memoir is a creative piece of writing not always written chronologically, but can employ flashbacks and flash forwards to better illustrate the person’s journey and their states of mind. A memoir is much broader, more focused and can embark on the story at virtually any time in the storyteller’s life, and end whenever the story does.

A memoir shows a focus and a theme of someone’s life story. The focus maybe a career, a sport, a tragedy, a challenge, several obstacles to a goal, passionate crusades, a hobby, one single incident, an event, a recovery, a time of abuses, a time of successes, a relationship, a discovery or virtually anything. A memoir is a story within someone’s life usually over a span of years, but can be a span of days too. It is better written with some purpose of reflection, growth or revelation, or can just say what happened.

The link MemoriestoMemoirs2018Narrated will give you a narrated PowerPoint presentation video that is a shortened version to the one I used at several of the best writing retreats and writing conferences I’ve presented at (it’s about 23 minutes in duration). You may need PowerPoint loaded to make it work as a video.

No time to watch the presentation? Here are a few key slides to show you some thoughts on memoirs, or a link to the pdf: MemoriestoMemoirs2018

Many people have joined me in Mexico to get started on their memoir. Why don’t you consider it? To get the best deal on our retreats, book by November 20, 2018 for January 2019… Get out of the cold and write  in Mexico to one of the best writing retreats in the world.

– Kathrin Lake


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