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Writing backstory for memoir (Duplicate post in main Writing forum)

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#1 nbrandusa


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Posted 02 January 2014 - 07:58 PM

So of course to understand anyone's life history, you need to know a little bit of backstory about their parents/family...but what would you recommend is the best way to go about this task? For now it is included in the first chapter, but maybe should go in the introduction instead? And with the most of the story being told in 1st person POV, how would you handle describing events that occurred before your birth or personal memory? So far I've been tackling it almost as a historian documenting strictly facts, and plan to go back later to weave in the "story line", setup scenes, add dialog, etc., not sure if this is the "right" way to do it though...


Any help is most appreciated! :)

#2 mwsinclair


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Posted 07 January 2014 - 05:34 PM

I think it's hard to give an iron clad rule of thumb. In the memoir I most recently read (Eben Alexander's Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey Into the Afterlife) he skillfully weaved the personal backstory in at various times. For example, it was several chapters in before we learned he'd been adopted. I find that a chronological telling of one's life is probably not the way to go, but that's my opinion.


To me, the question is always, why should anyone who doesn't know you plunk down their hard-earned cash to read about your life story. The answer, to me, is because the story warrants it. So tell the story. It doesn't mean your story starts with your birth. It might start as you're standing on a bridge trying to determine whether to jump or not, or it might be when you're waking in the recovery room of a hospital and discover you have no memory of who you are, or whatever might be your story. (Obviously, I'm making up possibilities here; I don't know your personal story.)

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