Use Description to Communicate Opinion in Your Memoirs

The whole point of writing a memoir is to tell the story of your life from your unique point of view. But, as with other types of writing, it can be most effective to let readers draw their own conclusions. This subtle difference lies in your style of description.

Let’s say you’re recalling how your met your childhood best friend. He was a teammate in Little League, but you didn’t know each other because you attended different schools. You could write: Tommy was a very good player, much more skilled than I was, so I was surprised when he seemed friendly to me right from the beginning. You’ve evaluated his ability, your ability and his friendliness, and you deliver to the reader no interesting details—just your conclusions.

Try it this way instead, more like a reporter: Tommy hit at least one home run every game, and as a short stop he could catch the wildest throws, then propel the ball like a bullet to the appropriate plate. I was thrilled to get on base at all, and out in center field I just prayed for pop flies to the infield. So I didn’t see it coming when Tommy patted me on the back after the first day of practice and challenged, “Race you to the Good Humor truck!??? Readers still conclude that Tommy was friendly and the better player, but this style engages them and makes them want to continue reading your memoir!