By Paul Kachel
One way to develop your own style while learning the craft of memoir is to do a lot of reading of memoirs. This works like a crash course in writing techniques.
Learning by imitation is natural. It’s the first way we learn when we are children. As adults, we still use imitation to practice skills before we have them mastered. To write a good memoir, you’ll want to read other people’s contributions.
Don’t be overly restrictive about your reading choices. Read a bunch of memoirs but don’t stop there. You should also be reading autobiographies, biographies, even magazine pieces.
When you read for pleasure you read to enjoy but not to be critical. When you read as a writer, you need to read more consciously. Read to see how others handle the structure of telling their story. What can you get inspiration from? What structural elements might be useful in your own work? How do the writers you are reading introduce the action, and the various characters? How do they propel the storyline or action forward?
Do they use suspense to keep the reader engaged? Does the storyline drag, or did they start close enough to the final crisis or climax? How do the turning points of the stories develop? How are conflicts resolved?
Even elements such as point of view and description can be studied and learned. How does the author present settings, describe characters? Is there preachiness or is the tone appropriate for its topic?
Some common sticking places for stories should be observed particularly closely. How does the author handle difficult truths? What about the transitions between segments or anecdotes? How about the ending, how does the author bring all of the elements together to a satisfying finish?
Technical matters aside, you can also see how writers of similar stories handle the topics and themes that come up. Sometimes you can see elements of their stories you may be able to adapt in your own work. If not, you can still get a fresh perspective on your own material.
Reading other people’s memoirs is a great way to jog your memory, too. You can get an idea of the sort of things that go into these works. Include as much detail as you can, because your readers will appreciate this.
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Kachel, Paul "Improve Your Writing Style Through Varied Reading." Improve Your Writing Style Through Varied Reading. 26 Jun. 2010. uberarticles.com. 14 Sep 2014 <http://uberarticles.com/miscellaneous/writing-and-speaking/read-more-and-learn-new-writing-techniques/>.
APA Style Citation:
Kachel, P (2010, June 26). Improve Your Writing Style Through Varied Reading. Retrieved September 14, 2014, from http://uberarticles.com/miscellaneous/writing-and-speaking/read-more-and-learn-new-writing-techniques/
Chicago Style Citation:
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