Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Turn Your Memoir into Fiction

This weekend I had the pleasure of teaching a writer's workshop at Create:Saturday on the Seacoast Summerville Campus.  The writers who attended the workshop were so excited about their writing, they inspired me in my own writing. What an unexpected gift.

One man at the workshop told me he is a Sci-fi writer, but really wants to write his autobiography. He told me about the unconventional childhood he'd had and how, despite it all, God had brought him through. In listening to his stories, I was truly mesmerized. The characters he described and the settings he told me about were captivating. I wanted to hear more about them, but our time was limited.

That conversation got me thinking. He will probably have a very hard time selling his memoir even though it will probably be better than most memoirs our there. Let's face it, when you query a memoir to an agent or editor, you get the "speech":  Memoirs don't sell, unless, of course, they are the life story of a celebrity or some notorious character. Memoir writers often have to decide if they will push through the discouragement or give up altogether.

I would like to suggest a third option. (It's the same one I gave to this man at the workshop.)

Take the one of a kind characters and settings from your life and put them into a work of fiction. 

Since this man is already a novelist, he understands story arc and pacing. If he drops in the rich characters and detailed settings only he has experienced, he could have the makings of a bestseller. Now he will have a whole different kind of query and a book that is a much easier sell to an agent or editor.

So how about it? Would you consider turning your memoir into a novel if it meant actually selling it to a publisher and seeing it in print?

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