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How to Write a Memoir Essay

Many people consider the word ‘memoir’ as something similar to ‘autobiography’. In the context of this article by essay writers, it is critical to note that such a viewpoint is wrong.


Memoir essay writing


We don’t aim to convince you that memoirs have nothing in common with autobiographies. The devil is in details. A memoir can be autobiographical, but it is not the finalized life story.

Did we just confuse you? If yes, let us explain to you the difference more precisely.

Most of the autobiographies are complete descriptions of events that happened in the life of a particular person right from their birth to present days. Well, to the date of the text's publication. Usually, the focus of such writings goes to critical points or achievements. And what matters the most is that the autobiography is always about the truth and raw facts.

On the other hand, memories refer to some specific episodes taken from the life of the writer or any other described personality. Usually, a narrative of a memoir is about supporting the previously chosen topic and creating some kind of objectives.

Overcoming some tough life obstacles to reach the current state might be the objective you choose, for instance. To show it, you might like to display some particular examples through real experience scenes supporting the objective. In other words, it is the ‘plot’ of your memoir.

The beginning of a memoir essay might be the showcase of the life period you considered as bad. Taking the previous point as a start, you would probably choose some vital experience and focus on turning points:

  • People who transformed you;
  • Events which changed your outlook;
  • Lessons you have learned;
  • Other crucial episodes.

Along with that, you can tell of the ways, which you used to get benefits from the newly discovered principles or your shaped mindset to understand the significant change in your life. 

A Memoir Essay Writing Guide

It may seem that writing a memoir essay is nothing complicated. Nevertheless, you should be careful. Without having a proper plan, you’ll get lost pretty soon.

To write an essay the audience would like to read you should keep up with four recommendations. 

Keep Up with the Topic

Nobody wants to hear about you 'making things of yourself', except for your family and possibly a few closest fellows who love you and know who you are already. To excite and involve readers with the topic, you should let the readers understand one thing through the text of your essay: what was your experience may also become their one.

They all actually look for that in a memoir essay. They may read it to the very end and get excited by the author, but it won’t have a lot to do with how great an author is. Many people won’t confess, but their lives frequently are things bothering them the most. And that’s normal.

Just think that a potential reader asks himself or herself a question before starting to read your essay. The question sounds like, "What will be my profit out of reading this?" Things you can offer your reader will determine the success of your story. The point is to concentrate on principles you can transfer and to go in for good storytelling. 

What are Touching Points?

No matter how old a person is, where he or she lives, who they are in a society, or what their ethnicity is, their basic needs are typical: safety, love, and food. Everyone is afraid to be forgotten and alone, and all of them fear to lose their loved ones. In case your story has something in touch with the fears or desires above, every potential reader would be able to identify himself or herself with the hero of your memoir essay.

Even in case you read about a person of another race, age, gender, religion, or anything, you will feel empathy and relation to them when they speak of things that matter to you.

Pick Curious Episodes and Humor Carefully

The best motives to write a memoir essay are ones enabling readers to feel like the story is about them. A reader looks for the possibility to identify himself or herself with the author's experience and to learn something from it.

You may not be quite prepared to write a memoir essay if you don’t want to express your bad experience truly and emotionally enough.

It is better to choose supporting episodes without thinking about how much it hurts you to recall that memory. Your writing will become as successful and effective as vulnerable and raw you can show yourself up to readers.

A Memoir Essay Has a Lot in Common with Novels

That’s a critical point. A memoir essay is not about merely telling your story. It is much better to show it as they do in novels. 

Descriptions, conflicts, dialogues, tensions, and other tricks of literature are useful to make the story livelier. Avoid concentrating on chronology too much. You aren’t tight to strict timelines as you write a memoir essay, not an autobiography. Choose a case suitable to an episode regardless of when exactly it happened to you. Just avoid confusing the reader with sudden unexplained jumps.

When you write a memoir essay as if you would write a novel, the character arc requires your attention, too. In such texts, the author is the protagonist. A memoir essay is an explanation of how you grew into a person you are, a retrospective of lessons your life gave you.

A Memoir Essay Shares the Story without Steamrolling People

You were very brave to show your mistakes and weaknesses in that essay. But what about the others? Should you show their minuses, painful memories, or private things? 

No, you shouldn’t.

What if they allowed you to do that? Is it OK?

Usually, a person is not happy when you paint them badly in an essay, even if the description is authentic. Exposure permission is not an advantage here, as it won’t let them feel less stressed and irritated.

So What’s Up?

Yes, the best memoirs are real, raw ad gritty. How should you reach those points without going in for things determining your life too deeply?

A solution exists. It’s not only about protecting other people's privacy by name changes. Write about the different place, date, gender, time, etc. Change things allowing familiar people to identify participants of your story. It would not be a lie if you placed an appropriate disclaimer at the beginning of a text.

A Memoir Essay Writing Recommendations

As a memoir essay author, you should aim towards telling your readers about something valuable, something helping them realize that your experience may once become theirs.

Here below, we prepared a set of mistakes that authors commonly make. You better avoid them.

  • Don’t write an autobiography. Keep up with the specified topic. 
  • Lesser details are not for memoirs.
  • Do not be braggy or gloaty (or at least try).
  • Do not go above the truth. Telling lies is not about the discussed type of essays, although changing personal details of other people is fine.
  • Do not ‘preach’ or show off like you have superiority compared to the others.

To hook the readers, begin your story right from the middle action point.

A slow start of a memoir essay means the quick loss of interest by the reader. Of course, starting at the climax is not the best choice as well. Leave yourself some space to maneuver and raise the action, but begin with an interesting brick and then build your story basing on it. 

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