Memoirs have surged in popularity in the last few decades. Reading how others have faced adversity or achieved their goals provides solace and inspiration to others. Moving, compelling memoirs have crucial elements that set them apart from traditional autobiographies. These elements, executed correctly, can elevate your memoir above the ordinary. Keep these tips in mind when writing your memoirs, so your book stands out from the crowd.

Evoke the Mood

Descriptive words and atmosphere can lay the groundwork for a chapter focusing on a moment in time or a turning point when writing your memoirs. It’s more important to capture the dread or anticipation than to write about what you were wearing. If the weather had an impact (it was rainy and overcast) on your mood, describe how it affected your feelings at the time. Don’t simply say it was a crowded room, talk about how you felt in the room. Did you feel embraced by people who loved you and accepted you, or did you feel alone in the crowd?

Forget Chronology When Writing Your Memoirs

When writing your memoirs, you don’t have to stick to strict chronology. Autobiographies need to keep a linear timeline, but memoirs are more flexible. In fact, you’re better off focusing on a turning point or significant issue at the beginning, then using subsequent chapters to look back on other events when writing your memoirs. You can flesh out your theme and tie in various memories in flashbacks for a story that hooks the reader from the first page. 

Choose Content Wisely

Writing your memoirs is about capturing part of your life, not all of your life. Since you aren’t telling an exhaustive story about your entire life, you can pick and choose what events to share and which ones aren’t relevant to your message. Focus on the moments that illustrate your growth, your suffering, your road to redemption…whatever your message is. You may have a funny anecdote about your first time riding a bike, but unless it illustrates a point or helps define a relationship, save the story for another project.

Keep a Narrow Focus when Writing Your Memoirs

You can’t include everyone in your memoir. Your favorite babysitter, the first guy who asked you out, or the job you held one summer don’t have to be included when writing your memoirs unless they move the story forward and tie into your memoir’s theme. Editing down to the people and events that transformed you and demonstrates the message you want to convey keeps you focused. Rambling off on tangents when writing your memoirs leads to a confusing and less powerful finished product.

Dudley Court Press

Dudley Court Press works with writers like you every day. As a full-service, hybrid publishing house, we help thoughtful people write their books and become successful published authors. Contact us to discuss our assisted self-publishing option today.

For more information, including about DCP’s latest programs, please get in touch at +1-520-329-2729 or We’ve recently launched our latest program, Memoir Writing for Non-Writers. This comprehensive, 10-week course helps you turn your memories into a compelling memoir!