Writing Memoir Leads Grabbing the reader’s attention with an interesting opening
Write from experience • "In order to write memoir, we need to see that literature is made out of the everyday stuff of our lives." Lucy Calkins The Art of Teaching Writing
Where to begin • Chances are that you’ve chosen to write about an event that has meaning to you, maybe even personal in nature. This should be an event you feel comfortable writing about. If it is a deeply personal experience, you may find that the writing flows more easily after you get past the opening.
Types of Leads ~ Descriptive • Descriptive leads ~ These ‘set’ the scene by painting a picture in the reader’s mind. • “the doorman of the Kilmarnock was six foot two. He wore a pale blue uniform, and white gloves made his hands look enormous. He opened the door of the yellow taxi as gently as an old maid stroking a cat.” --Raymond Chandler
Suspense Leads • Suspense leads create curiosity in the reader’s mind and leave them wondering what will happen next. • “Suddenly everything stops.” --Alison James • “You must not tell anyone,” my mother said, “what I am about to tell you.” --The Woman Warrior • “Every so often that dead dog dreams me up again.” --Stephanie Vaughn
Question Leads • Question leads immediately draw the reader into the memoir, inviting the reader to ponder the events that lie ahead. • “Why on earth had she shown up after ten long years, and what was that expression of fury on her face?” • “If I had a crystal ball to predict my day ahead, would I have done anything differently?”
Leads that introduce the narrator • ‘Narrator’ leads introduce the reader to the narrator, acquainting the reader with the main character in the memoir. • “The name my family calls me is Morning Girl, because I wake up early always with something on my mind.” --Michael Dorris
Conflict Leads • Conflict leads present the central conflict to the reader for immediate consideration. • “At the age of six, our family was faced with a beast of a threat that would proceed to tear us apart, piece by piece.”
Thematic Leads • Thematic leads hint to the reader at the ‘life’ lesson that the memoir will teach. • “I was six years old when my mother taught me the art of invisible strength.” --Amy Tan
Your lead… • How will you invite the reader into your memoir?