Keep a “Quotes Journal” as a Memoir Resource

Keep a “Quotes Journal” as a Memoir Resource
A lot of people like to include dialogue in their memoirs. It breaks up the copy visually and makes the reading more interesting by really bringing a situation to life. But dialogue can be difficult to write, and that’s not the only problem.
When you relate a conversation, you’re putting quotes around not just your own words, but someone else’s words. You can rely on your memory to paraphrase what happened in a scene you write about, and in a memoir you do the best you can. But there seems to be a higher standard of accuracy in quoting directly, and you can’t possibly remember a conversation word for word even when you are one of the participants or you witness the discussion; you can’t possibly know exactly what was said if you weren’t even present.
If you’re still some years away from writing your memoir, begin now to keep what I call a “quotes journal” of things people say to you that you want to remember precisely. Perhaps it’s the “wise sayings” your mother likes to repeat as advice to you. Maybe it’s a particularly poignant conversation you had with someone. Or, when you experience a traumatic event, it’s interesting to write down all of the comments people make about that occurrence. Their words provide insight into their character as well as into your relationship with them. When you go to write your memoir, you’ll find your quotes journal very helpful.

A lot of people like to include dialogue in their memoirs. It breaks up the copy visually and makes the reading more interesting by really bringing a situation to life. But dialogue can be difficult to write, and that’s not the only problem.

When you relate a conversation, you’re putting quotes around not just your own words, but someone else’s words. You can rely on your memory to paraphrase what happened in a scene you write about, and in a memoir you do the best you can. But there seems to be a higher standard of accuracy in quoting directly, and you can’t possibly remember a conversation word for word even when you are one of the participants or you witness the discussion, much less if you weren’t even present.

If you’re still some years away from writing your memoir, begin now to keep what I call a “quotes journal” of things people say to you that you want to remember precisely. Perhaps it’s the “wise sayings” your mother likes to repeat as advice to you. Maybe it’s a particularly poignant conversation you had with someone. Or, when you experience a traumatic event, it’s interesting to write down all of the comments people make about that occurrence. Their words provide insight into their character as well as into your relationship with them. When you do begin to write your memoir, you’ll find your quotes journal very helpful.