Notes on Editing Memoir
How to edit memoir. This four-lesson, self-paced class is informational-only, meaning you will not complete assignments based on the lessons. I do recommend that you read a few published memoirs as you work through the material.
Notes on Editing Memoir will help you understand the distinction between memoir and autobiography, and between journaling and memoir. It addresses concerns that arise when memoirs cross genres (such as the intersection between memoir and self-help).
It explores the question of fact versus truth, describes the importance of understanding the needs of the author’s intended market (traditional publishers expect unique stories while the grandkids are not quite so picky), how to help authors home in on their story (instead of trying to tell three different ones), and ways to manage timelines without giving readers whiplash as the author jumps back and forth in time.
The class explores the need for authors to mine their stories deeply enough, to tell the story at enough distance to understand what it means, and to avoid other pitfalls common to the memoir genre.
It also takes a brief look at legal considerations (libel is always a risk when negative material is published about living people) and emotional concerns (even if Mom isn’t going to sue, will she be hurt, and how much should that matter?).
I recommend reading Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, Red Notice by Bill Browder, Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford, and/or The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy in connection with this class as these memoirs are all very different from each other and they each have strengths as well as developmental problems. But any memoir will do.
NOTE: That this class is based on the material in the instructor-led class, Explorations: Editing Memoir. If you took the Explorations class, you already have access to this material.