Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

When Writing Memoirs, Don’t Let Verb Tenses Make You Tense!

Here’s some grammar help on verb tenses as you write your memoirs.

I’d like to discuss verb tense because it confuses many people, and I don’t want it tripping you up as you write your memoirs. Most likely, you’re writing your autobiography in the past tense: “I was born…went to school…accepted a job.??? As much as you can keep it that simple, you should be fine. But sometimes you want to express a more complicated time sequence. Past perfect and past perfect progressive are two other tenses you may find yourself needing.

The past perfect tense conveys action that took place before another action that also happened in the past. You form it with the word “had.??? An example: “I had intended to go to college, but when the war started I decided to sign up instead.??? You intended to go to college before you changed your mind, so you need the “had intended??? construction.

The past perfect progressive tense is similar but uses the “…ing??? form of the verb preceded by “had been.??? Example: “I had been enjoying my time at home raising my children, but when the youngest entered high school I thought it was time to go back to earning a paycheck.??? Again, this indicates a past action that preceded another past action, but the difference is that it was an ongoing action—in this case, the act of enjoying. From time to time I will give you these grammar tips, and I hope this helps you as you write your memoirs.

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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!