Friday, April 12, 2013

Wayne Groner on Memiors

I never liked books written in first person when I was a child. I would pull out an interesting title, flip to the first page, and if the pronoun I or we started off the story, I reshelved the book quickly. Somewhere in my adulthood, my tastes took a sharp turn, and I fell in to love with memoirs. I got lost in the pages of books of real people doing real things.

So I was anxious to hear Wayne Groner speak at last night’s Writers’ Guild meeting. Groner is vice-president of the Springfield Writers’ Guild and teaches classes on memoir writing. Last night he reviewed his twelve steps for writing memoir, biography, or family history.  The author has “massaged material into books” with four titles to his credit thus far.

Below are the basic twelve steps:

            1. Decide format. Will you write a memoir about a segment of your life, a biography about your whole life, or a family history?
           2. Decide motivation. Do you write to inform, to save information, to heal?
            3. Read what you like and look for clues how to write the same.
            4. Make a list of memories and remembers scenes from your life.
            5.Write in your natural voice, as you speak.
            6.  Free write in the beginning without any editing.
            7. Open with action or dazzling beginning.
            8. Show, not tell.
            9. Use dialogue.
          10. Let yourself write about painful memories.
          11. Ask trusted people for editing reads.    
          12. Edit, edit, edit.

This list is not just for memoirs; it has excellent points for any writing. Groner’s presentation was vivid and rousing, making writers break through any hesitation and inspiring them to get right to writing. You can visit the author at

How about you? Do you read or write memoir or family history?


Susan said...

Hi Claudia....Mr. Groner's presentation must have been quite illuminating.

Well, so far, I kept an extremely detailed book on Christmas. I included, year after year, decorations, menus, guests, special treats, etc.

The only one who seemed to be genuinely interested in it was me. I was kind of disappointed that my kids didn't express more interest because the entries are really quite nice and detailed.

Oh well. Such is life. I enjoyed keeping details of that special time, year after year, along with nice photos, etc. Didn't do it this past Christmas though as the 5 year book was full.


Rebecca said...

How valuable, this list!
I actually started a "memoir" as such. I got bogged down and quit. I wish I'd had this list at the beginning.

I think #2 is very important...In fact, it's a good one to revisit periodically for (as you said) ANY type of writing! Blogging included! A friend and I were just having a conversation related to this yesterday over lunch :)

Linda O'Connell said...

I read and write memoir and enjoy both. Just read The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer. It was good.