Let’s examine a few more celebrity memoirs for inspiration in constructing a first sentence or two. Michael J. Fox begins his 2002 memoir: “I woke up to find the message in my left hand. It had me trembling. It wasn’t a fax, telegram, memo or the usual sort of missive bringing disturbing news. In fact, my hand held nothing. The trembling was the message.” Readers know that Fox will receive a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, but the beginning still is poignant and compelling.
Each chapter of the 2011 memoir of Dancing With the Stars professional dancer Cheryl Burke is named for a type of dance, which Cheryl uses as a metaphor for something in her personality or experience. She begins Chapter 1: “The freestyle dance is not restricted by any conventional steps or choreography. It is simply a dance in which the dancer can showcase whatever movement or emotion seems appropriate.” So you don’t have to begin with something personal. This is a little different way to begin a memoir.
Actor Alan Arkin chose a more traditional, straightforward two sentences to start his 2011 memoir: “My father said that at the age of five I asked him if he could keep a secret. He said yes he could, so I told him I was going to be an actor when I grew up.”
These authors zeroed in on an essence—ultimately the theme of the book. If you can identify what that is for you, the first sentence of your memoir will write itself.