So you have a great story or there was a major personal experience that you just need to write about. But the choice of what style to write it in can be confusing. Do you choose to write a memoir of the events? Or do you use your past experience to create a novel?
Here are 5 ways to help you know if you should be writing a memoir or novel.
You want to explore questions about your story.
If reflecting on the events in your story is important to you, memoir is the way to go. With a memoir, the author has the freedom to explore events and ask themselves, and the readers, questions in their writing. The “ah-ha” moments can be included as you’re writing them.
Your story has substance.
A memoir needs to have a strong theme and key details to be successful. If your personal story or experience you want to write about lacks substance, it will be hard to write (and read). If you feel you’re lacking the substance to complete a memoir, consider writing a novel. A novel would allow you to use your story but with the ability to add and tweak to create a more stimulating read.
You want to stay on good terms with the people in your life.
Since memoirs tell things exactly as they happen, not everyone is seen in a good light which can make people upset. Publishing a memoir about family members or friends can have lasting consequences. If you want to avoid any possible family or legal issues, choose to write a novel. You can stay true to your story but tell it as fiction. By making some changes, you can still get your story out there but avoid the repercussions of upsetting people you care about.
You want to be able to identify with others.
If you feel very strongly that your story will resonate with others and you want to build on that, a memoir is a great choice. Writing from your perspective will give readers insight and inspiration, especially if they can relate to your topic. Writing your story in a memoir format will provide a platform to connect, especially if you plan on doing speaking engagements.
You fear the reliability of your memory.
If you have a sharp memory, detailed journals and interviews, a memoir will be a cinch. But if you want to talk about a specific event or time in your life but you can’t remember the exact details of or you fear that your memory is incorrect, a novel is the best option. With a novel you don’t have to run the risk of getting it wrong. If recounting your tale is causing you anxiety and taking the joy away from your writing, it’s time to switch to a novel. It will give you relief but with the same ability to still relay your message.