Monthly Archives: February 2016

Family History Written as Fiction

Using Fiction to get at the Essence of Truth in Family History
Presenting a family story as fiction gives the writer license to stray from the constraints of layered facts, illustrated by quotes, to delve instead into the essence of the truth. That is, after all, the fiction writer’s job, to make us experience and feel, sense and question. Fiction requires mastery, but for a growing number of nonfiction writers, their material has exerted an uncontrollable pull into the imagination. A remarkable case in point is Jeannette Walls’ book about her grandmother, Half Broke Horses, written in a form she dubbed “true life […]

Structure Memoir and Family History Around a Theme

A ‘Theme’ Identifies the Heart of the Story
Theme is a nebulous force. You know what the story is about: Jane leaves Bill for another — and finds she’s made a mistake. That’s the ‘Premise,’ but the theme underlies that. It’s the essence of the story–what it’s really about; its purpose; its core.

Maybe the theme is redemption? That sounds clichéd but there’s a limit to the number of themes possible, so this is the one place you can indulge in cliché. And you won’t get caught because theme is never overtly stated.
Here’s some theme possibilities:

(Writing a premise precedes identifying a theme. […]