Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

More Grammar: The “They” Issue

Avoid using “they” and “their” with “everyone” and “anyone.”

“Everyone can find something they like on the menu.” Right or wrong? I hope you don’t mind another grammar discussion as you plug away at writing your memoir.

Today’s column by New York Times blogger Philip B. Corbett tackles the continuing dilemma of the gender-neutral singular pronoun. I’m among those who bristle at pairing the singular “anyone,” “everyone” or “no one” with the plural “they” or “their.” Corbett mostly agrees but also discourages resorting to the old-fashion “he” or the cumbersome “he or she.” I’m guessing he wouldn’t much like “s/he,” either. The problem is that English leaves you no good option. Or does it?

I’ve long advocated for just switching up the sentence. English is a rich language, and it’s not that difficult to say the same thing in a different way. This is Corbett’s solution as well. He tends to simply pluralize everything. For example: Should every student design their own curriculum? He changes that to: Should all students design their own curriculums? That’s good with me, except I would use curricula rather than curriculums, but I prefer his second suggestion: Should every student design an individual curriculum?

When we apply this to the first sentence above, we can come up with a few choices: All diners can find something they like on the menu; Anyone find something on the menu to enjoy; Everyone can find a satisfactory choice on the menu; The menu addresses all tastes and diets. Etcetera!

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Then just set up a chapter and start writing your memoir. Don’t worry about rules. There are no rules to writing your memoir; there are only trends. These trends are based on techniques and features identified in current top-selling memoirs. At best, they’re the flavor of the month. If you’re capturing your life in print for your family, for your own gratification or to inspire readers, rather than aiming to set off Hollywood screenplay bidding wars, these trends don’t even apply to you. You’ll write the memoir that suits you best, and it will be timeless, not trend-driven.There are no rules, but there are four steps:

1. Theme/framework
2. Writing
3. Editing/polishing
4. Self-publishing

You’ve researched this, too, and you’ve been shocked at the price for getting help with any one of those steps, much less all four. That’s because most memoir sites promise to commercialize your work. They’ll follow a formula based on current memoir trends, because they want to convince you that they can turn your memoir into a best-seller. These sites overwhelm you with unnecessary information not to help you, the memoir author, but to address Search Engine Optimization (SEO) algorithms so they can sell more.

That’s not what we do at Write My Memoirs. Our small community of coaches, writers and editors are every bit as skilled as any you’ll find, and we charge appropriately for their expertise and the time they’ll spend helping you craft a compelling, enjoyable read. But you won’t pay an upcharge for other websites’ commercialization, the marketing that follows, and the pages of intimidating “advice.” You can sell your book if you like—we have ISBNs available for you—but our organic process of capturing your story takes a noncommercial path.

If you want help with any or all of the four steps above, choose from our services or save money by selecting one of our packages. If you’d like to talk about what’s right for you, schedule a call. One year from now, you can be holding your published memoir in your hand. And at that point, it will be a big deal!