Creative Writing Memoir 2018-06-18 00:00

How to Tell Personal Stories That Will Touch Readers


Composing a memoir is, at its most basic, nothing more than fancy storytelling. The mind is hard-wired to respond differently to storytelling than it does to other writing forms.

Whether a blogger, non-fiction author, journalist or content provider, using the techniques of memoirists to connect with your readers will help you create work worth remembering.

Without further ado, check out these tips for telling a personal story that will touch readers.

  1. Everyone Has a Story And Most People Want to Tell it
  2. Focus On Your Truth
  3. One Question
  4. Write What Moves You
  5. The Takeaway

Everyone Has a Story And Most People Want to Tell it

Capture the story. Get a notebook to find and develop ideas. Get a pack of spiral pocket notebooks. Write the four Ws — who, what, when and where — we learned in the 4th grade. Need something more high-tech than pen and paper? Get comfortable with an online notebook like Evernote, or One Note or Google Keep.

Basically - in order to tell a story that connects with readers, you first need to tell a story. Get out there and do it.

Focus On Your Truth

Be honest while sharing your unique perspective as you write the story. “How’s how I see it” is a phrase to remember. Don’t claim your perspective is the only one, but be open to other truths and remember: success rests on understanding stories as told to you and those which you tell.

One Question

Why do you write? Do you write to critique? To inspire? Maybe to motivate? Why do you write? Self-expression? Because there’s a fire burning in your bones?

Of all the great reasons to write, you don’t write to entertain. Writers write to touch their readers — to move them in some deep emotional way. To reach those inner emotions people only talk about late at night. In a note to a friend, Oskar Pollak, Frank Kafka said: “A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.”

We shatter the frozen sea within us by truths, ideas and the right turn of phrase.

Write What Moves You

It’s not always easy. To write what moves us, we must touch the pain resting inside. Our fear. Our weaknesses and skeletons. We need to stand face-to-face with our nightmares and demons. Even hidden by a shroud, self-disclosure is a horrific thought.

When we want to crack the ice of another person’s spirit, we go first. If we love our reader, we will go first. We will go first because the story keeps us awake. We toss and turn. The story echoes the ache in our psyche.

There is enough fluffy drivel online to fill the ocean. Write something that matters. Write with conviction.

If the story raises a lump in your throat, it will move someone else. If the story inspires you, it gives hope and motivates others to do well.

The Takeaway

Stop standing there. Visit your frozen sea. Oceans are not intended to be unmoving. Find your ax. Go to work.

Be confident about grammar

Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.