Writing Memoir Leads Grabbing the reader’s attention with an interesting opening
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?”
One sentence wonders One-Sentence Wonders-The opening paragraph is only one sentence long, and it’s provocative. It sums up your overall main idea without giving much away. I will never forget myself for what happened to Michael.
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.”
Dialogue Leads Dialogue-The text begins with one or more people speaking. “Jason! Jason, help me!” I ran out the kitchen door to the backyard, where my brother was playing. When I got there, I knew it was bad. “Are you…? Are you…” That was all I could say. Nothing else would come out of my mouth.
Thematic Leads • Reflection-The narrator examines the subject, describing thoughts and feelings. • I never appreciated my little brother Michael. I thought he was annoying, a nuisance, a burden. But that horrible night I learned how important he is to me. I realized I would do anything for Michael. Anything.
Types of leads • Descriptive – scene, setting, or situation • Suspense or Action Leads • Question Leads • Introducing the Narrator • One Sentence Wonder • Conflict Lead • Thematic Lead • Dialogue Lead
Begin Drafting Your memoir • Choose a TONE to set. Establish what you want the overall mood of your piece to be. Write this first. • Choose a LEAD from the options we discussed today and write your introductory paragraph. • Skip lines when you are drafting so you can add notes later. • DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER than 1-2 paragraphs. • Complete the Memoir planning page to “ZOOM IN” on the details of your memoir before you continue drafting. • Remember: The Key to a good memoir is HONESTY
Writing Closing Lines Create a final mood for your reader with a thoughtful closing line
Closing Lines • Closing lines can be poignant, cliff hangers, melancholy, optimistic, open ended, nostalgic. They can cause the reader to ponder the future, reflect upon the past, walk away with optimism and a sense of finality or defeat and tension.
From “The 100 Best Closing Lines from Books” • "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.“ -The Great Gatsby,F.Scott Fitzgerald • “After all, tomorrow is another day.“ -Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell • “But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.” -The House At Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne • “He is coming, and I am here.“ -The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger • “In the meantime, she would just live.“ -P.S. I Love You, Cecelia Ahern
Closing Lines cont. • “He loved Big Brother.“ -1984, George Orwell • “Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this.“ -Little Women, Louisa May Alcott • “A LAST NOTE FROM YOUR NARRATOR. I am haunted by humans.“ -The Book Thief, Markus Zusak • “The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.“ -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling • “Are there any questions?“ -The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood • "I ran with the wind blowing in my face, and a smile as wide as the valley of Panjsher on my lips. I ran.“ -The Kite Runner,KhaledHosseini