Memoir Writing

What is a Memoir?

A memoir is a narrative essay, article, or book written from the writer's point of view about a significant event or part of their life. Memoir writing involves writing from the author's perspective and hence is likely to be confused with autobiography. While we will talk about the differences between a memoir and an autobiography, the fundamental difference that should be remembered is that in an autobiography, the narrative spans the author's entire life. In contrast, the meaning of the memoir is focused on some pivotal part or event of their life or on a few specific themes to which certain events in their lives are connected.

To define memoir, we loosen the extended period and other constraints of an autobiography. People writing memoirs try to choose a pivotal moment in their lives and recreate that event through storytelling. While the memoir is based on facts, it is subjective, and the story is told as the author remembers it and prefers to tell. In Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frank talks about how he recalls life in the Nazi camps, how he managed to survive, and his philosophy of existentialism and search for meaning as providing the will to live in such difficult times. In this sense, it can be called a memoir example.

Types Of Memoirs

There are various types of memoirs like:

  1. Transformation memoirs: Transformation memoirs are written about a significant challenge in the author's life and their attempts to deal with the challenge, with the end usually being the author has succeeded in dealing with the problem, along with a significant personality or perspective change, like having received redemption, or something else. Examples include Educated by Tara Westover, Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares by Aarti Namdev Shahani, Finding Freedom by Erin French, etc.
  2. Confessional memoirs: In confessional memories, the author usually lays their childhood or important secrets about them and tells the story surrounding those secrets - for example, Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau or Running with Scissors by Augusten Burrough.
  3. Professional and celebrity memoirs: These types of memoirs usually describe the struggle and the journey of a professional as they overcome obstacles and rise to fame and name. For example, I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, Just Kids by Patti Smith, etc.
  4. Travel Memoirs: These types of memoirs are usually written by the author to provide an escape to the readers, and it takes the readers on a journey with the author as the author tells stories about his experiences and adventures of a journey - for example, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, etc.

Difference Between A Memoir And Autobiography

While both memoir and autobiography are told from the point of view of the authors writing them and involve talking in the first person, there are some very essential differences between memoir and autobiography as follows:



Memoirs are focused on a particular section (event, time or theme) of the author's life.

Autobiographies envelop the writer's whole life.

Memoirs can be about anybody in general. Any person can write a memoir and people read them because of their themes, concepts, or style.

Autobiographies are usually about famous people, celebrities, etc and people usually read them to learn about the author.

While memoirs can be written chronologically, they often move back and forth in time

Autobiographies follow a strict chronological order from birth to death or the present moment of the lives of the author.

The main emphasis of the memoirs is on the emotional experience and the subjective experience of the author

The main focus of the autobiography is usually on the facts and historical events.

Memoir Structure

Memoirs should be unique, and writers can write them in whatever structure they want. However, a few defined structures for writing a memoir are described below:

  • The Straightforward structure

This kind of structure is where the events are arranged in chronological order, and learning lessons occur after one or a few specific events. In this type of memoirs, firstly, an event A happens, then B occurs, then C and D. These events are, of course, connected and authentic.

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burrough is an excellent example of a memoir following a straightforward structure.

  • The Framed Structure

The frame of this memoir is one specific event of time in your life, but it includes flashbacks, childhood memories, dreams, etc. It uses bringing the past into the present to describe how you have reached where you are now and how it helps in better telling the story of the present.

For example, Eat, Pray and Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is an excellent example of a memoir following a frame structure.

  • The Thematic Memoir

This type of memoir is often confused with an autobiography. Thematic memoirs can span several years of your life because it is based on talking about one theme or a lesson that took the author 30 years to learn. Choosing the significant events over those 30 years to tell the story of where you are now is the essential component that distinguishes a thematic memoir from an autobiography.

For example, Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson is an example of a thematic memoir.

Characteristics of a Memoir

While every memoir is unique, all of them have a few features or characteristics of a memoir which are as follows:

  1. One of the essential characteristics of a memoir is that it is told in the first person by the author. It is a story about a part of the author's life.
  2. The memoir revolves around a significant event(s), time, or theme in the author's life.
  3. The memoir is subjective and told from the perspective of the author. It focuses on the author's emotions and personal experience and does not concern itself with the importance of facts and history like an autobiography.
  4. The most important characteristic that you need to have in mind is the memoir you are writing. Common categories of writing memoirs include the struggle against oppression, overcoming addiction, coming of age stories, etc. Your memoir should have a specific type and a strong story.
  5. Another critical component of memoir writing has a strong theme. Even if you are not writing a thematic memoir, a memoir needs an overarching theme to connect the elements and convey a compelling story.
  6. Each memoir should stick to the point of the story that the author is trying to tell. It is effortless to get off track and distracted and start telling stories not originally intended to be a part of the memoir and not related to the main story or the memoir's theme. Special care should be taken to stay focused on the topic and not go haywire.

Thus are the features of a memoir.

Memoir Writing Help

There are various memoir examples that you might enjoy reading, as discussed in the article above, like Furiously Happy, Running with Scissors, I Am Malala, Man'sMan's Search for Meaning, etc.

Students of literature are often given assignments of writing memories about their life based on a theme or a specific chain of events. Writing a memoir is very difficult yet essential and requires in-depth knowledge, analysis, understanding of the text, etc. Students often find it confusing, challenging, and exhausting to work on a memoir and get confused with the features of a memoir, thus requiring professional help in completing their assignments.

Moreover, supervisors often have unrealistic expectations from students and hand out impossible-to-meet deadlines, making it almost impossible for students to complete the assignments independently. Many students work various jobs to support themselves through college, and it becomes difficult for them to take the time out for completing such exhausting tasks.

In such cases, it is natural for students to seek out academic writing help online. We, at Sample Assignment, provide rapid delivery of assignments. If you are looking for online academic assistance, the following are the reasons for choosing us for your Petal Paragraph Answer:

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You can trust Sample Assignment with Memoir writing and your other academic writing help and online academic assistance.

About Author

Nick is a multi-faceted individual with diverse interests. I love teaching young students through coaching or writing who always gathered praise for a sharp calculative mind. I own a positive outlook towards life and also give motivational speeches for young kids and college students.

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