Writing Micro-Memoirs by Lynne Collier

In my previous post, I mentioned writing micro-memoirs. I’m new to writing my personal story in this form, but as I explained, short-form writing has become my preferred style due to necessity.

So, what are micro memoirs?

I read an interesting quote about writing memoirs in short-form by a fellow micro-memoirist. It’s the best short-form definition I’ve found.

“They combine the truthfulness of memoir, the conflict-focused tension of fiction, and the precision of poetry. They are brief, tightly woven nuggets of narrative energy.” Georgia Kreiger

Kreiger also mentions a book I’m very fond of by Beth Ann Fennelly.

In her book Heating & Cooling, Fennelly wrote a one-paragraph story about someone else’s grandfather in “Small Fry.” It’s a memory from her childhood that encapsulates the wonder of a child observing a strange grown-up habit. It portrays the elements of micro-memoir in a nutshell.

And here’s one of my favourite one-sentence memoirs by her.

“There will come a day—let it be many years from now—when our kids realize no married couple ever needed to retreat at high noon behind their locked bedroom door to discuss taxes.” Married Love II by Beth Ann Fennelly.

Ideas for Writing Micro-Memoirs

I found creating a vision board on Pinterest helpful, and I have pins on my board about places I lived as a child, the TV shows I watched, fashion, and the pop groups of the 60s. But you can make a collection in several ways.

Use a collage of images as wall art in your writing space, draw a depiction of the event in an art journal, gather ideas in a notebook, or create a unique scrapbook to remember specific times using photos and newspaper cuttings you may have tucked away.

  • Brainstorm a list of memorable moments.
  • Choose one memory to focus on.
  • What stands out most about that event?
  • What emotion does it evoke?
  • Write it out in a rough first draft, then narrow it down to be as concise as possible.
  • Try to condense it into one paragraph or even one sentence.

What if you want to write a full-length memoir?

If the ultimate goal is to write a complete memoir, you can use your micro pieces to test what your readership enjoys by emailing a newsletter with a micro-memoir or posting them on your blog or social media platforms. Share a few and see how your audience reacts.

This is the reverse of what we usually do—write the long-form story and then break it into shorter excerpts to post online. This way, you create interest in your finished memoir before it’s released.

When you have enough micro-memoirs to work with, you can collect them into chapters for a full-length book. Use the comments from your readers and algorithms to draw out more about each topic and create a longer chapter on each one that was popular.

Memoirs are not always book-length works that include much of your backstory. But each of us has a unique story to tell and can, by writing short-form micro-memoirs, tell our treasure trove of stories one gem at a time.

Read my previous post, “The Power of Short-Form for Your Writing Career.”

Follow me on Medium and Facebook, and see my memoir vision board on Pinterest.


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