No matter whether you are assigned to read or write one, you will need first a clear definition of memoir before starting the work. Here is the simplest definition possible, so that you can perfectly understand this genre and its peculiarities.
Definition of Memoir: 2 Meanings
So, what is a memoir? Basically, there are two meanings of the word “memoir”, which are similar, but have some important differences as well:
- A memoir is an author’s personal account of his/her life story. For example, Eminem published his memoir The Way I Am in 2008. It was a collection of the rapper’s personal stories, photos and memories. (This meaning is very close to the definition of autobiography.)
- A memoir is also an author’s account of historical events or periods which s/he witnessed. For example, Hemingway wrote a memoir about Paris in the 20s. This book contained the writer’s personal observations about historically significant events.
Definition of Memoir Characteristics
Now you already have a simple memoir definition, but before you start writing or reading one, you should also know some peculiarities of this genre that are worth paying attention to:
- Emotional language. Memoirs usually employ emotionally colored words which reveal the author’s attitude towards the depicted reality. Avoid using bleak or neutral words and try to find instead interesting epithets and similes. For instance, the phrase “as strong as Superman” sounds more interesting and persuasive than simply saying “strong”.
- Lyrical digressions. Along with particular events, a memoir describes the author’s life views and thoughts. Do your best to differentiate between the main plot lines and the author’s comments on them.
- Senses. Along with feelings and emotions, memoirs contain information on smells, sights, sounds, tastes and touches. These details create powerful associations in the reader's mind and help convey the author's experience.
The following steps will help you write a truly good memoir:
- Define the events and time period you are going to discuss.
- Choose the most interesting moments.
- Use “time travel” to recollect what you were thinking and feeling at the depicted moment.
- Find the best suitable words to express your feelings, so that your readers can feel what you felt.
- Make certain your memoir has some logical structure. Have a particular plot line and help your readers go through all of your lyrical digressions without losing sight of the main ideas.
Congratulations, you have gone though this entire guide and now you already know everything you need to write high quality memoirs. Do not hesitate to revisit this page as well as other pages on this website every time you need to write a memoir or complete any other type of academic assignment. For instance, these persuasive speech topics for college students can become perfect starters for different types of your papers.