Getting an essay or article published around the central themes or topics of your memoir is one of the best ways to get a publishing deal and build your writing platform.
When you’re brainstorming stories to pitch or publish around the themes of your memoir, it’s important to understand that different styles of memoir essay suit certain publications – and goals! – better than others.
Read on for six ways you could write a memoir essay, article or blog post, suggestions and examples, and which outlet suits which style best.
Writing a persuasive essay, article or blog post: This is a great way to utilise your memoir focus sentence, especially if you have a few versions!
Using your focus sentence, you would write to convince the reader about your point of view on that subject, challenge or idea.
Best suits: Opinion pieces.
Example: This New York Times piece argues why Germany has a low rate of deaths from the Coronavirus pandemic. Although it’s not a memoir essay, you can see that the premise is one central idea or theme, and the essay is built around arguing that key premise or idea.
Writing a step-by-step essay, article or blog post is a great way to the reader how to do a task or process that you’ve perfected in your memoir.
For example – how to make 10 meals with lentils (!), how to clean your groceries during COVID etc. Marian Keyes’ Saved by Cake is a memoir that both shares recipes and her battle with depression, one could imagine a lesser-known author would be able to build a great platform from a personal blog with this theme!
Best suits: Personal blogs, community-focussed audiences (eg. Cooking, health, travel).
Writing a descriptive Essay, article or blog post is a great way to stretch out your writing craft muscles and really turn an experience into a piece of literary prose.
In an essay like this you would focus on scene, feeling, style and mood.
Best suits: Literary outlets, personal blog.
Example: This piece by Lynne Tilman for LitHub On The Small Act of Leaving The House
Writing a narrative essay, article or blog post is one of the more comprehensive ways of almost turning your memoir into a micro-story for publication. In many of the examples of memoir essays that have led to a book deal, they were a narrative style.
This type of essay uses storytelling structure and devices much like you’ve used to write your memoir as a whole, but you need to make sure you’re not telling the entire story of your memoir, if you want to use this to secure a book deal. Outlets such as Narratively or Hidden Compass are great places to publish a narrative essay, and writing a piece like this can allow you to explore aspects of your memoir themes in real depth.
Best for: Longer essays for outlets such as Huffington Post, Longreads, Narratively, Vox, Buzzfeed.
Example: I was a cable guy. I saw the worst of America by Lauren Hough
Compare and Contrast
Writing an essay, article or blog post that identifies similarities and differences between two ideas, places, or experiences is another great way to use your focus sentence to argue two possible ideas. You could also use it to illustrate the central question you address in your memoir, just be sure not to resolve every little sub-thread of your story in your published piece.
Best for: opinion sections, personal blogs, and community-focussed outlets (eg. Cooking, health, travel outlets and blogs).
Example: School French Vs Real French for Paris Perfect’s blog.
Writing an article or blog post that outlines a problem (eg. Grief, staying indoors, cooking with what’s left in your pandemic cupboard), proposes a solution, and addresses objections to the solution you’re offering is a great way to reach a whole new audience. Basically, anyone who suffers from the problem you’re solving is going to want to read your piece!
Best for: Personal blog, Medium or any outlet that relies on social networks and communities who may re-share.
Example: This blog you’re reading right now! Any post that offers information that solves a problem or question in your audience’s mind.
Regardless of which style of memoir essay, article or blog post you write, the MOST IMPORTANT thing is to be strategic and understand your audience! So if you’re pitching to Narratively, for example, you wouldn’t pitch a problem-solution essay.
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Thanks for your really great insights into memoir writing. The most useful for me is my own journey and honesty with the reader. I finally get it.
I want to write the story of my life