How To Write A Memoir

Why write a memoir? Memoirs are stories. When writing stories about your life you will use many of the same tricks you use when writing fiction. You write them to share with others an interesting event that has happened to you or that you observed. To make sure your memories don’t disappear. To be able to share them in the future with family and friends, and to re-live the event(s) yourself. Finally, writing like this can help you understand the things that have happened to you.

In our everyday conversations we recount events that have actually happened to us or to the people we care about. We share the things we have got up to - interesting, unusual or sad events. Writing a memoir is good for thinking about our past. We can think about who we were and who we are now.

  1. (Field) What your text is going to be about

What’s great about memoirs is they can be about anything you or someone else have really done, in real life!

The best memoirs are about an event or experience that was really important to you, that you’ll always remember. These can be happy, sad or funny moments.

A good memoir describes an event in an interesting way.

  • Your memoir should start by introducing the place and the event to the reader.
  • Include who? what? where, why and when.
  • Explain why this event was significant or important. Share with the reader your reflections on what happened. What was the value of this experience? What did you learn, gain or understand?        

 (Tenor) Your role as the writer

You have to make sure you choose an event that people will want to read about. You then have to keep it interesting throughout. Readers don’t want to get bored.

Readers are often less interested in the event itself but rather your thoughts and feelings during the event you are describing. Set the reader up for the experience in your very first sentence or paragraph:

E.g. You may not believe this, but this really happened to me.

3. (Mode) What it looks like

  • Make sure key events are written in order and are in paragraphs.
  • You may want to add pictures of important moments.

Example of a memoir

The Great Mouse Plot

My four friends and I had come across a loose floor-board at the back of the classroom, and when we prised it up with the blade of a pocket-knife, we discovered a big hollow space underneath.

One day, when we lifted it up, we found a dead mouse lying among our treasures. It was an exciting discovery. Thwaites took it out by its tail and waved it in front of our faces. ‘What shall we do with it?’ he cried.

‘Why don’t we’, I said, ‘slip it into one of Mrs Pratchett’s  jars of sweets? Then when she puts her dirty hand in to grab a handful, she’ll grab a stinky mouse instead.’

The other four stared at me in wonder. Then, as the sheer genius of the plot began to sink in, they all started grinning. ’We’ll do it today!’ they cried. ’We’ll do it on the way home! You had the idea,’ they said to me, ‘so you can be the one to put the mouse in the jar.’

Thus everything was arranged. I kept to the rear of the group, and when I saw Mrs Pratchett turn her head away for a couple of seconds, I lifted the the heavy glass lid of the Gobstopper jar and dropped the mouse in. Then I replaced the lid as silently as possible.

As soon as we were outside, we broke into a run. ‘Did you do it?’ they shouted at me .

‘Of course I did!’ I said.

‘Well done you!,’they cried.

I felt like a hero. I was a hero. It was marvellous to be so popular.

(From ‘Boy’, by Roald Dahl)

This event happened while Roald Dahl was at boarding school.

Diary Entry: Wednesday, 8 July 1942

I was exhausted, and even though I knew it’d be my last night in my own bed, I fell asleep right away and didn’t wake up till Mother called me at five-thirty the next morning. Fortunately, it wasn’t as hot as Sunday: a warm rain fell throughout the day. The four of us were wrapped in so many layers of clothes it looked as if we were going off to spend the night in a refrigerator, and all that just so we could take more clothes with us. No Jew in our situation would dare leave the house with a suitcase full of clothes. I was wearing two vests, three pairs of pants, a dress, and over that a skirt, a jacket,a raincoat, two pairs of stockings, heavy shoes, a cap, a scarf and lots more.

Margot stuffed her satchel with schoolbooks, went to get her bicycle, and rode off into the great unknown. At any rate, that’s how I thought of it, since I still didn’t know where our hiding place was.

At seven-thirty we too closed the door behind us; Moortje, my cat, was the only living creature I said goodbye to. According to a note we left for Mr. Goldschmidt, she was to be taken to the neighbours, who would give her a good home.

The stripped beds, the breakfast things on the table, the pound of meat for the cat in the kitchen -  all of these created the impression that we’d left in a hurry. But we weren’t interested in impressions. We just wanted to get out of there, to get away and reach our destination in safety. Nothing else mattered.

From: Anne Frank, the Diary of a Young Girl.

Anne Frank was a girl who lived during the Second World War in Holland. Because she was Jewish, she had to go into hiding from the Nazis. Whilst in hiding, she wrote a diary which is now famous.

 Anne Frank thought of her diary as a friend, called her Kitty, asked her questions, and chatted to her in writing.  

No One's Day But Ours.

We’ll explain it and deal with the consequences after,  I thought.

Looking out the window and watching the bright sunshine reflect off my dad’s car and into my eyes, I felt a warm glow. Waving goodbye, I knew today was going to be just perfect. It was no coincidence perhaps that I could see the Chattri from that very same window. The promised land almost teasing me.  

I grabbed my backpack and met my friends by the post-box, just as we had planned. “Have you got the goodies?” I asked Joe excitedly. He assured me he had, and from the rustle I could hear as we walked, I believed him with all my heart. Joe always had a way of making you feel reassured, perhaps it was his height and frame. Joe was taller than the rest of us. He had sharp, almost white messy hair, which made him endearing and trustworthy to parents.

Looking back now, our impatience to get to the Chattri caused our ‘short-cut’ to not be so short at all. Negotiating all the fences and the barbed wire which came with them was trying. The barbed wire seemed, at times, to be like fighting against the ocean’s tide. “Maybe we should have just used the paths?” Dan suggested, sarcastically. Dan was the shortest in the group, and at our age that meant something. He was also incredibly skinny and had comically thin, hairless legs. Legs that seemed to protrude from out of his shorts like twigs.

“Where would the adventure be in that?” I said, in such a way that I didn’t even believe myself. We still had a way to go and it was cold and lonely in the shade of the valley. The warmth and the light shone on the Chattri - right at the top of the hill - but not on us.

When we finally got there, Joe opened his rucksack to reveal what we had all been waiting for. It was a feast to the eyes for any 11 year old boy. It was all the treasures a boy of that age could dream of: chewy strawberries and snakes by the bundle, the largest cola bottles you could get - and full sugar too! Not to mention what felt like endless packets of Haribos. We held them in our hands and raised them up to the clear blue skies - like savages - like a sacrifice - like a victory cry.

This was it. This was freedom. We were free, free to do what we wanted to do, and what we wanted was to be together and be alone. Alone to scream and shout; to holler and play hijinks and silly-fools. We played together that day, like the clock stopped. Today was our day.

My lasting impression will always be standing at the top of that hill, ripping at a chewy-snake, stretching it away from my back teeth, eyes shut, head back, hearing my friends rolling down the hill into the thick and welcoming grass and feeling king. King of my world, with my comrades there to support me. Soaking up the day, we didn’t need or want for anyone or anything - least of all our parents.

“We’ll explain it and deal with the consequences after,” I whispered into the silk of that afternoon breeze. I wonder where that afternoon breeze is now?

By Mr. Teacher.

The Best Time Ever

Picture to yourself a hot, dusty, dirty classroom,in a hot, dusty, dirty school,in a hot, dusty, dirty old city somewhere in the middle of England. It is a July afternoon in 1976, and there hasn’t been a drop of rain for months.  In the city, there are standpipes for water at every street corner. In the countryside, fires are constantly breaking out in the parched, dried-up cornfields. It’s a strange time, and strange things happen.

Back in the classroom, flies come in through the open windows and buzz around the heads of thirty children who are flopping listlessly at their desks. I am trying to read  them a story, but no-one is really listening, and one or two are even nodding off. Suddenly, my friend, who has the class next to mine, pops her head round the door and says “We’re going to the park to find some shade. Want to come?” So we do.

In the park there is a large paddling pool which, miraculously, still has two feet of water in it. The children make a beeline for it, take off their shoes, and dip their toes in the coolness. I hitch up my maxi-dress and do the same. Suddenly, there’s a splash. Someone’s in the pool. It’s one of my boys!  Did he slip?  Was he pushed? Or did he throw himself in? There’s a silence. The children all look at me, wondering what I will do. I stand there, uncertain. Then there’s another splash. Someone else is in! Suddenly I can’t do anything but laugh. This is the signal for a spontaneous act of mass immersion. Some fifty children, fully clothed, follow each other into the pool, like lemmings jumping off a cliff. The pool is filled with wriggling, writhing, screaming, shrieking, splashing bodies. It’s glorious and exhilarating. The best time ever.

Later, we struggle back to school in a dripping, steaming crocodile, the girls with their long black plaits oozing water and their silky salwar trousers clinging to their skinny legs. It’s not till we are almost there that I begin to have a few worries. Will the Head want an explanation? And how will the parents take it? The children go straight home, and I think it’s best if I do too. My friend from the other class is anxious about the consequences, and I have to reassure her that I will take the rap if there is one, which I am increasingly sure there will be. I spend an uncomfortable evening expecting a barrage of complaints from the parents in the morning, complaints on the grounds of their child’s health or, worse still for me, possibly on religious grounds.

But, amazingly, there was not a single one. Maybe the heat had affected everyone’s brains. But what I learned that day is that sometimes, just sometimes, it’s okay to let go of yourself, throw caution to the winds, and live dangerously for a moment. And that it’s great.

A true story by Mrs. Teacher

Children’s Example of Memoir

Long Time, No See

As I sat in my car, I leant my head back and closed my eyes as tight as I could. I let my mixed feelings wash over me. Scared, excited, shy but most of all happiness. All these feelings pointed to my half-brother Edward, who I was going to see today for the first time in three years.

The car halted so fast my stomach almost flew out of my mouth. I was shocked out of my thoughts and back to real life.

I was tingling all over when I stepped out of the car. From one look up I noticed the day had turned around – just like my feelings. The day had changed from dark and gloomy with clouds of worry fogging up my mind to bright, blue skies with and hint of sunshine. But still (even with a hopeful feeling in my heart) a small cloud was just not shifting from mind. I jumped down into the mud. My shoes splatted but I was only concentrating on keeping my head down for as long as I could (without being noticed). My cheeks felt like they were at melting point and my legs were shaking like jelly.

When I couldn’t keep my head down any longer, I slowly but surely tilted it up. My younger brother (Joe) had rushed up to Edward and was confidently babbling away and squeezing him to death.  I could not quite hear what he was saying but I was sure that I would not be able to speak to Edward that easily. Joe has always been care-free and confident like that.

Edward was taller than I had ever imagined and he cast a long shadow over the front garden. He had a small but noticeable beard and a sleeve of tattoos down one arm.

He lifted his gaze over Joe and caught my eye. I wanted to rush back into the car and hide there forever but there was something drawing me towards him. Joe finally let go and went to talk to my dad – who was standing in the doorway behind Edward.

Suddenly, I did something very unexpected. I rushed up to Edward and squeezed him till I was sure he would burst. I felt comfortable in his arms like all I had had to do was hug him and it was possible everything would have been ok. I looked into his eyes and smiled “Hello Edward,” I said shyly. He stared straight back into mine and grinned till his face almost split. “Hello Emma,” he replied. I released him and grabbed his hand, dragging him inside for many more adventures together.

I’ve learnt that you have to grab the moments while they last and make the most of them. I hope you do too.

 By Emma London (9-Years Old)

Children’s Example of Memoir

The Day My Life Changed!

I have been waiting for months for this to come.

My baby brothers were finally born. When I woke up, I was at my nan’s house. I asked my granddad why I was here? At 7oclock in the morning, my nan got home to pick me and my sister up, to get us to the hospital. I was thrilled and rushed out of the house. I was the first to get in the car. I was buzzing with excitement!

When we got there, I unplugged my seatbelt,   got out of the car and ZOOMED through the hospital doors. My nan shouted “Calm down!”

I shouted back at her “I can’t! I feel like I’m going to EXPLODE!” – even though I couldn’t.  After that, we got into the lift and went to floor 4 where my mum was. I heard babies crying; nurses and doctors talking loudly. My mum looked so tied. I hugged her like no one else could. My dad asked us if we wanted to go and see our new baby  brothers. They were in separate rooms because my brother Leo was born dead but 7 minutes later he started to breathe again. He was the same size as my shoulder to my elbow. He had a little bit of golden hair as if it was popcorn .He had long eyelashes like spider legs. I couldn’t really see that much of him because he had tubes and face masks on him everywhere. Next, we went to see Lee Junior. He was a bit bigger than Leo. He had soft silky skin and bright blue eyes that sparkled when I glared at him. I leant over and smelt him because I love that baby type of smell. They both were so adorable and very precious.  I  really wanted to hold them but we weren’t allowed. I carefully stroked their tiny little faces. I wanted to take them home today but they were born a month early and were really poorly.

You see, this is a story of how  Lee Junior was a hero .When they were in my mum’s tummy, Leo’s cord was in a tight knot and stopped him breathing. However, Lee Junior, incredibly saw what was happening  and broke my mum’s water and now Leo and Lee Junior are in safe hands with the doctors and the nurses. Two weeks later, I went to Matilda’s house and when I came home, there they were, laying there asleep, on the sofa!

And now we are a proper family.

By Tina Westley (9 years old)

Children’s Example of Memoir

Superglue

I was desperately sitting in front of the incubator watching the duck eggs. Although I knew they weren’t ready to hatch, I still sat there waiting.

One afternoon, when I came back from school, my dad told me one of the duck eggs had started hatching. I was so excited until… I found out it was about two or three weeks early.  My parents had to superglue it together. We all thought it wouldn’t hatch but we were wrong. We all knew that if it hatched the duck lurking inside would be called superglue.

Soon, the ducks started poking their tiny, orange beaks out of their little turquoise house. First to hatch was an adorable little male duck, who we called Gamima (at the time we thought he was a female). The second one to hatch was small compared to Gamima. We called her Daffy. Over the course of the next few days, the other eggs started to hatch – all of them except Superglue.

Finally, his egg started to form a lightning bolt across the top and a small beak pecked its way through the shell. As soon as I laid my eyes on him I knew he was my favourite. In some way he was the most special. He was a small pile of adorable, yellow fluff and I loved him dearly.

Soon, I and the rest of my family were allowed to hold the ducks. It was the most amazing experience I had ever had. They had the beautiful shape and were too soft to describe! They closed their eyes when you stroked them and leant their head to my body. As I stroked their head, I felt their soft skull beneath their warm feathery skin. They were so light they could fall over if a light breeze hit them. Their tiny webbed feet griped to my relaxed fingers.

That weekend it was time for the ducks to have their first adventure outside. It was a beautiful, hot summer’s day and the blazing sun shone over our garden. Daisies had started sprouting from the grass and apples were hanging from our small apple tree. The ducks were all so happy. After an hour outside, it was time for the ducks to go back into the house. My dad scooped up six of the ducks and took them inside. The only one left was superglue who was wandering around in the garden. Me, my mum and my brother were watching him. The minute we turned our backs away, there was the sound of a faint quacking and a fox running. A fox had superglue in his mouth. When my dad tried to catch the fox, it ran out of the garden and disappeared.

Superglue was gone forever.

 By Emma Goodheart (10 years old)

Children’s Example of Memoir

The Best Match Ever!

I could smell pork being cooked in the back of a van. It was about 3:00 PM and the sun was shining bright over the unmistakable arch of Wembley Stadium. Me and my dad always like to make score predictions before matches we see. My dad thought 3-0 Crystal Palace and I thought 1-0 United. People were chanting their team’s songs and were drinking a lot of beer. I could see a few people fighting which was not very good. But we’d finally got passed security and were now walking up the steps.

Me and my Dad support United so we were both buzzing with excitement. When we got to the final step, we could see the green pitch popping out at us. We walked to our seats and sat down. I was ready.

After 70 minutes of very boring football, Crystal Palace scored. The other side of the stadium roared with excitement. It was as if the flood lights were shining on the Crystal Palace fans and players. On our side it was as quiet as a pin dropping on a big, fluffy rug. “Oh no,” I quietly said to my dad (who had his head in his hands).

It was now the 80th minute and the United fans were losing hope. Just as people started to leave, United scored! All of us screamed with joy and jumped into the air. “Cooomme onnn!” shouted my Dad (who didn’t have his head in his hands anymore). My head was filled with thoughts such as: we’ve brought it back and can we win the cup?

Ten minutes later, the ref blew the final whistle and the score was 1-1. Every single person in Wembley knew that there was another 30 minutes for a winning goal. I was extremely excited and extremely scared because I knew that the next half hour would decide whether today was the best day of my life – or the worst…

It was now the 20th minute of extra time and there were still no more goals but United were on an attack! Wayne Rooney was running down the left wing with the whole United team in the penalty area. Rooney got to the bi-line and crossed the ball into the area, the ball spun in the air and immediately bounced off Delany’s knee. The attack had stopped. Or had it? The ball was flying in the air and fell to Jesse Lingard. He took an ambitious first-time volley. The ball, which was going as fast as a falcon swooping down at its prey, went right into the top left-hand corner of the net! It was the winning goal!

Me and my Dad jumped up in the air and were hugging each other. Even a man, who was in the stand above, was hugging us both!

That is why the 21st of May 2016 was the best day of my life and the best football match I’ve ever been to.

By Freddie Levine (10 years old)

Children’s Example of Memoir

The Day I Met My Hero

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to meet your hero?

Dad, who was a great rugby player, knew they were in town. My hero in Hastings. For that reason, we went on a hunt, a hunt for Owen Farrell, who was my idol, and the whole England Rugby Team. All of a sudden, out of the corner of my brother’s eye, he saw an England Rugby Tracksuit. In desperation he shouted “They are over there!”

“This would change my life forever” I thought as we walked up the stone steps to the Jurys Inn. I tentatively crept up the stone steps and pushed open the great glass doors.

The Jurys Inn was packed with huge windows and was amongst the seafront. The windows opened up to the wavy, blue sea. The sun was shining in the sky like a shooting star flying in the night sky. The inside was huge with a bar the size of a Porsche, and had multiple rooms around it. There were stairs either side of us and there was lots of bustling people around gossiping. I was shy to the touch. My heart was beating like a buzzard’s wing

I kept looking backwards and forwards waiting. For the special arrival. But would he ever come? I thought. My stomach turning inside me like a washing machine.

Then, out of nowhere, a 6’3 man came in. His hair elevated in the air like a plane trying to thread through clouds. Owen Farrell was wearing an England tracksuit and was with George Ford (another professional rugby player).

“It’s OWEN FARRELL!” I exclaimed to my dad. Before I realised, I was asking him for a picture and signature with my brother. As my Dad took the picture, I thought “I’m not seeing him through tiny pixels.” That moment was precious to me.

Finally, to top the day off, I got him and only him, to sign my new England rugby shirt. Not wanting to go, my Mum and Dad forced me to leave. We went into Donatello’s for dinner that night and well, I was definitely not taking my jumper off…

By Tom Stock (9 years old)

Children’s Example of Memoir

Sprinkles On The Moon

Have you ever wondered how ice-cream tastes at midnight?

Well, one warm night in the summer holidays, me and my family went out for a walk until my dad had an idea that changed the whole day!

There we were at Jojo’s. One step blew our minds. There was a variety of different flavours spread across the room, my mum looking at the melon flavour, me and my brother Luis scanning the room for unusual flavours like Kinder Bueno, water melon and even peanut butter! Finally, we all chose our flavours. I chose strawberry, Luis lemon sorbet, my cousin Kleo Kinder Bueno, my mum finally chose melon and my dad vanilla.

We all stepped out still amazed, and we made our way down to the seafront. On the way there, Kleo randomly said in Albanian. “Do you know why I chose Kinder Bueno?”

“Why?” My dad replied.

“Because in Italy, all the ice-cream shops do it.” He finished. When we got there, my dad went down to the sea and shouted. “The sea has at least risen by a metre!” Me and Luis sharply looked at the sea and we saw that it was slowly overlapping itself like dark baby horses in a race for victory. We both raised our eyebrows amazed. We were staring at the stars –it was like the moon was a spotlight shining down at us-tongues against ice-cream like iron to a magnet. Drunk men frequently shouting at nearby pubs, the cool, relaxing breeze gently touching our faces. Ice-creams’ melting and growing by the minute and frozen flakes refreshing our bodies. All this until my mum suggested that it was getting late and we should start walking to the car that was parked more than a mile from where we were.

Our dad told us that we had to get going until I asked, “Can we get seconds?”…

By Agim Sinani (9 years old)

Children’s Example of Memoir

Lost Cat

“Harry has died,” Mum said to me in a mournful voice in the morning. But who is Harry and how had he died? Let’s go back to the night it happened.

It was a cold evening, the moon was bright and cars bustled past each other in a mess of grimy bonnets and gleaming headlights. It seemed a perfectly normal evening and houses squatted low on the street.

I was playing in my room having an enjoyable time when someone shouted “Something is wrong with Harry,” (Harry was our cat and seventeen by now. With fluffy paws and a warm coat, our family loved him). I went downstairs to see what was up.

Fred. who was my brother, knelt by Harry who was tottering around as if blind. “What’s wrong?” I asked with curiosity. “Harry doesn’t seem to notice me,” said my brother “Harry, Harry”.

Mum and Dad came down -worried looks on their faces. “He has gone blind,” said Dad and my heart ached as if someone were squeezing its juices out. “It might be diabetes,” said Mum (that sounded bad). “Try feeding him,” suggested someone.

Immediately, Harry turned up his nose at the food placed in front of him. He let out a mournful meow. He needed the vets. Terrified, Harry got into his basket. Dad hauled him into the car. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I stroked Harry one last time. Dad stamped on the pedal and I watched the car pull out into the road and speed into the night. That was my last glimpse of Harry.

In the morning, there was silence. The trees stood high, leaves on their branches. The sun seemed dim as if a life had been lost. I dragged myself downstairs and we are now back at the beginning with mum delivering the terrible news.

Later that day, I saw Harry’s bed, wishing he was still in it. That was when my precious Harry was lost…

By George Newman (10 years old)

Children’s Example of Memoir

Saying Goodbye!

I slowly trudged out of my house. The house I would never again laugh in; never again cry in. The house I would never again eat in; never again sleep in. Mum heaved our suitcases out of the house and into the Grandpa`s van. My eyes started watering.

It was a rainy day, as there is always horrible weather in Manchester. We lived on a street with a dead end. Our house was on the right side at the end of the road next to the tall cobble wall. My cousins lived opposite us. I took once last glance at the house I loved, but would never see again.

I didn’t understand why this was happening (as I was only 3 and a half) but I knew what was happening, “Mum, why do we have to leave Dad?” I pleaded, hoping she would change her mind of leaving Dad and stay with him “Because we are.” Mum said sharply. I turned around, Dad was at the front door. I ran across the gravely path and into Dad`s arms.” Do you promise you will write to me?” I asked Dad. “Promise.” He replied

It felt as if my heart broke in two like a piece of paper being torn to shreds. I was trying to hold my sadness in, but it just came all over me. My sadness gushed out of me and I burst into tears. I squeezed Dad tight. Why does it have to be like this? I thought.

“Come on Aleena, get in the van” Mum called. I scooted over to her, and I clambered into the van. I shut the door. I looked out the window and I saw Dad waving. I could faintly hear his voice saying “Goodbye!”. As his voice died away, so did my hope. Would I ever see him again, I thought to myself.

By Aleena Koraishi (9 years old)

Questions To Ask Yourself For Memoir Ideas*

Why memoir? It means the world becomes yours. If you don’t do it, it drifts away and takes a whole piece of yourself with it… Memoir? It’s like taking possession of your life, isn’t it.’ - Ted Hughes

*Taken from Atwell, N. (2002) Lessons That Change Writers Heinemann: USA 

More Ways To Come Up With Memoir Ideas          

Everyday Things I Do:

Special, Different, Strange, Exciting Experiences I’ve Had:

Things I Enjoy:

Things I Hate!

Boxing-Up A Memoir

Introduce the place and your event.

Include:

Who

What

Where

Why

When

E.g. You may not believe this, but this really happened to me.

Write, in order, only the most important moments.

You might want to use these time connectives.

Last week,

First,

When we finally got there,

After that,

Finally,

To help you plan, write two lists:

1. All the thoughts that went through your mind. 

2. A list of the emotions you felt.

  1. Thoughts I had                                  2. Feelings I had

Why was this event significant or important to you?

What did you learn, gain or understand because of this experience.

Now You’ve Written Your Boxing Up, Write A Blurb To Show How Good Your Idea Is.

In One Sentence, This Is What My Piece Is Going To Be About:

This Is Who I’m Writing For:

This Is What I Want Them To Think, Feel Or Do After They’ve Read What I’ve Written:

My Blurb:

Get Your Details Together Before You Start Vomit Drafting

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Get Your Opening Just Right: Examples Of How To Write Memoir Openers

Question Type Opening:

  • Have you ever wondered how ice-cream tastes at midnight?
  • Have you ever wondered what it would be like to meet your hero?

Description Type Opening:

  • I could smell pork being cooked in the back of a van. It was about 3:00 PM and the sun was shining bright over the unmistakable arch of Wembley Stadium.
  • Picture to yourself a hot, dusty, dirty classroom,in a hot, dusty, dirty school,in a hot, dusty, dirty old city somewhere in the middle of England.

Thought Type Opening:

  • We’ll explain it and deal with the consequences after,  I thought.
  • I slowly trudged out of my house. The house I would never again laugh in; never again cry in. The house I would never again eat in; never again sleep in. Mum heaved our suitcases out of the house and into the Grandpa`s van. My eyes started watering.
  • As I sat in my car, I leant my head back and closed my eyes as tight as I could. I let my mixed feelings wash over me. Scared, excited, shy but most of all happiness. All these feelings pointed to my half-brother Edward, who I was going to see today for the first time in three years.

Speech Type Opening:

“Harry has died,” Mum said to me in a mournful voice in the morning.

Shock or Surprise Type Opening:

  • What could one of these look like?

Action Type Opening:

  • Why not just head straight into the action?

Memoir: Compositional Checklist

Important Things To Consider When Planning A Memoir

Checked

So What?

What will people enjoy about reading your memoir?

Is it sensitive? Is it about something important?

Is it really funny?

Have you used one small personal experience to explore a larger phenomenon?

E.g: the importance of family, friendship, loneliness, independence, freedom, love, death, kindness or bullying.

Have you started ‘too far upstream’ for your memoir to be thrilling from the start? Start at the waterfall.

Make sure you focus on one pebble on the beach and focus hard - instead of trying to write about all the pebbles!

Important Things To Consider When Writing A Memoir

Checked

Have you set the reader up for the experience in your very first sentence or paragraph?

E.g. something like: You may not believe this, but this really happened to me...

Write your memoir just like you would an interesting, sad or funny story!

NO ONE wants to read a boring old list of things that happened...

Does your writing suggest you were having fun or sharing something really sensitive and powerful when you wrote it?

Have you described what happened - use storytelling techniques like Roald Dahl & Michael Rosen do?

Can your reader, see it, hear it and feel it?

Have you described new settings just like you would in story writing?

  • location,
  • weather,
  • time of day,
  • historical time.

Have you described people/animals just like you would in story writing?

  • appearance,
  • how they say or do things,
  • their mood.

Have you used hyperbole like Michael Rosen does to exaggerate things?

Share those important little details poetically - just like Michael Rosen does.

Remember, you can bend the truth if you think it will add something to your memoir.

In your last paragraph have you revealed to your reader why you wrote about this event? What did you learn, gain or understand from living this experience?

Do you have an interesting and unusual title to draw in your reader?