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Memoir Writing

Writing Personal and Family Histories

Books for people who do not see themselves as writers
— but want to write something about their life or family.


Breathe Life into Your Life Story: How to Write a Story People Will Want to Read by Dawn and Morris Thurston.
"Showing, not telling," creating interesting characters and settings, alternating scene and narrative, generating suspense, writing at the gut level, and more.

For All Time: A Complete Guide to Writing Your Family History by Charley Kempthorne.
Charley's wise, encouraging style makes writing a book, if only for the family, seem human and doable.

Keeping Family Stories Alive: Discovering and Recording the Stories and Reflections of a Lifetime by Vera Rosenbluth.
Interviewing and recording techniques for family histories.

Legacy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Personal History by Linda Spence.
A popular guide for doing oral, personal, and family histories. Memory prompts encourage storytelling.

Living Legacies: How to Write, Illustrate, and Share Your Life Stories by Duane Elgin, Colleen Ledrew.
Emphasizes illustrating your stories with photographs, memorabilia, and other images

Story Bridges: A Guide for Conducting Intergenerational Oral History Projects by Angela Zusman.
A concept and a process schools and families should take a look at.

The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries by Marilyn Johnson.
A delightful account of how those final stories get told.

The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing: How to Transform Memories Into Meaningful Stories by Sharon Lippincott.
A "roll-up-your-sleeves" guide to writing and publishing a life story.

The Legacy Guide: Capturing the Facts, Memories, and Meaning of Your Life by Carol Franco and Kent Lineback.
Moving from facts to memories to meaning, this book takes you through the seven stages of life -- childhood, adolescence, young adulthood (roughly 20-30), adulthood (roughly 30-45), middle adulthood (roughly 45-60), late adulthood (roughly 60-80), elder (roughly 80 onward) � inviting you to recall forgotten moments and discover their significance.

The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life by Marion Roach Smith.
Everyone has a story to tell, but writer and memoir writing instructor Marion Roach Smith says making those stories interesting and readable is harder than it looks. Her new book is a disarmingly frank with quirky, provocative tactics that teach you to write with purpose. The author discusses this book on NPR's Talk of the Nation.

Start & Run a Personal History Business: Get Paid to Research Family Ancestry and Write Memoirs by Jennifer Campbell.
A practical guide to making money doing something you love.

Turning Memories into Memoirs: A Handbook for Writing Lifestories by Denis Ledoux.
Workshop in a book, encouraging nonwriters to write their own stories, by a founding member of APH.

You Can Write Your Family History by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack
Starting from a genealogy base, Sharon offers tips on how to bring characters and social history to life and present stories about people on the family tree.

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