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Table of Contents:

The author's personal connection to the genre of literary memoir.
What it takes to write honestly about our lives.
A note about the use of female and male pronouns.    

Chapter 1: What is Memoir?
The difference between "memoirs" by famous people and the contemporary literary memoir.
What makes memoir distinct from other genres including autobiography, fiction and essay? 
Your "contract" with the reader to be honest.
Let yourself be opinionated.   

Chapter 2: Who Cares? And Other Thoughts on Getting Started
Believing in the importance of your own story.
Taking the time to learn your craft: apprenticeship.
What to write about.
Reading memoirs by other writers.    

Chapter 3: Finding Form
Organizing by theme or narrative.
To tell it chronologically or make a collage.
Adapting the form; using photographs or letters; being willing to leave things out; digging deep to find the true heart of your story.
The difficulty of ending a memoir.   

Chapter 4: The Truth: What, Why, and How?
When to rely on memory and when to do research.
How memory "revises" a story over time.
Demands for loyalty and the risks of telling the truth; reasons to pursue truth, even when it is painful.
Using humor; avoiding seeking the reader's sympathy.   

Chapter 5: Scene, Summary, and Musing
Narrative techniques for storytelling.
The long view and the close-up.
Developing scenes and dialogue.
The essential presence of retrospection or "musing."    

Chapter 6: Moving Around in Time
Write from a "now."
How not to lose your reader when you flash back or forward.
Verb tenses, signposts, and the difficulties of narrating in present tense.
Diagramming a clear time line.    

Chapter 7: Using Your Senses
Show, don't tell.
Concrete details, imagery, using all your senses.
Describing people using descriptive verbs instead of adjectives.
Sensory details as a key to memories.    

Chapter 8: Naming Names
The power of real place names to give authority to your voice.
Recognizing and using the music of names.    

Chapter 9: Writing about Living People
The writer's responsibility to those we write about.
Knowing what may harm someone if you publish a name.
Naming those who have wronged us; to show your subject a draft or simply publish?    

Chapter 10: Your Memoir and the World
Grounding your story in a period, in history, and in cultural references for authenticity.
Balance between internal and external events.    

Chapter 11: Watch Out for the Myths
Myths about writers that impair our being in touch with ourselves, our feelings, and our stories: the drunk the suicidal writer, and the neurotic writer fearful of rejection letters. 
Embracing new images of a healthy writer.    

Chapter 12: Getting Feedback on Your Work

Writing groups and the specific challenges of critiquing memoir.
A set of guidelines to follow in a group.    

Appendix: Your Memoir and the Law
When to worry about being sued (hardly ever).
When to get written consent to write about someone.
A summary of some legal points relating to publishing.

Each chapter includes extensive writing exercises.


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