Memoir Writing Starter Kit
9 mins read

Memoir Writing Starter Kit

Everyone has a story. Share yours by using materials, resources and programming from Plano Public Library.

Plano Public Library offers everything you need to learn a new skill, develop a new hobby, and pursue a new career. This month’s Starter Kit is all about writing your memoir. Recording your life story is a creative exercise that can have powerful personal benefits. Check out some of the resources below to make the experience that much more meaningful for others who might read your work!

Upcoming Events

Join us for these exciting library programs to develop your writing skills!

Teens Write Now (Teen)

Calling all young writers! Learn narrative writing skills such as plotting, character-building and dialogue to make your creative manuscripts shine.

This program will be held at Haggard Library on the following Thursdays at 6pm: July 14, July 21, July 28, and August 4.

The Write Workshop: Critique Basics (Adult)

Critique a short story together. Skills acquired in a writer’s critique group will improve your craft as the editor of your own stories.

This program will be held at Schimelpfenig Library on Saturday, July 23 from 3-5pm. Tickets will be distributed beginning at 2:30pm.


The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr: Anchored by excerpts from her favorite memoirs and anecdotes from fellow writers’ experience, The Art of Memoir lays bare Karr’s own process. (Plus all those inside stories about how she dealt with family and friends get told– and the dark spaces in her own skull probed in depth.) As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past; anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate. | Print |

Body Work by Melissa Febos: Drawing on her own experiences, the author of the critically acclaimed memoir “Whip Smart” discusses how to confront the emotional, psychological, and physical work of writing about our most intimate lives. | Print |

Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life by Diana Raab: With techniques and prompts for both the seasoned and novice writer, it will lead you to tap into your creativity through storytelling and poetry, examine how life-changing experiences can inspire writing, pursue self-examination and self-discovery through the written word, and, understand how published writers have been transformed by writing. | Print |

Memoir as Medicine: The Healing Power of Writing Your Messy, Imperfect, Unruly (but Gorgeously Yours) Life Story by Nancy Slonim Aronie: A discussion of the healing benefits of memoir writing along with pragmatic advice for writing one. Includes a set of prompts, directions, and examples to help readers become writers of their own personal stories. | Print |

Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir by Beth Kephart: A memoir-writing guide offers writing lessons and examples for those interested in putting their memories down on paper, explains the difference between remembering and imagining, and describes the language of truth. | Print |

Junior & Young Adult

How to Write Your Life Story by Ralph J. Fletcher: The author’s fifth writing guide for young readers teaches would-be autobiographers about the style and organization of a biography, and includes samples of work by young writers. | Print |

Reflections: On the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones: This collection of more than twenty-five critical essays, speeches, and biographical pieces chosen by Diana Wynne Jones before her death in 2011 is essential reading for the author’s many fans and for students and teachers of the fantasy genre and creative writing in general. The volume includes insightful literary criticism alongside autobiographical anecdotes, revelations about the origins of the author’s books, and reflections about the life of an author and the value of writing for young people. | Print |

Online Materials
The Great Courses via Kanopy

Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques – Writing great fiction isn’t a gift reserved for a talented few – the craft of storytelling can be learned. Even if you don’t dream of penning the next Moby-Dick, you’ll enjoy exploring the elements of fiction. A wealth of exercises will get you writing so that you can practice the many techniques you learn. From evoking a scene to charting a plot, this course is a master class in storytelling.

Becoming a Great Essayist – If you have a clever anecdote, an interesting memory, a new way to explain how something works, or an opinion on a social or political issue, then you have an essay in you. Unlike a novel, history book, or scientific publication, essays provide you with the versatility to express all the various facets that make you you. The concise and direct nature of an essay means that you may tap into your sense of wit, share your individual point of view, persuade others to your perspective, and record a part of your memories for future generations in as many distinct essay forms as you wish.

How to Publish Your Book – We have all heard the stories of publishing “miracles,” such as the struggling English teacher who fished his first short story out of the trash, turned it into a novel in two weeks, and ended up becoming one of the best-selling authors of all time. Or the teacher living on welfare whose book got published because the head of a publishing house gave the first chapter to his daughter to read, resulting in one of the most successful franchises in the world. Or the stay-at-home mom of three active children who wrote at night and just happened to have her manuscript picked up from a slush pile, turning her into a wildly successful Young Adult writer.

LinkedIn Learning

The Foundations of Fiction – Creative writing enthusiasts of all stripes—from accomplished novelists to novices struggling with their first screenplay—could benefit from a review of the basics. In this course, Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell dive into each of the key ingredients that make up great fiction, sharing tips that can help you conceive and write compelling novels, memoirs, short stories, or screenplays. Learn how to develop compelling characters, write sparkling dialogue, and decide on the right point of view for your tale. Plus, learn how to build memorable settings and turn story skeletons into rich, compelling plots.

Writing with Flair: How to Become an Exceptional Writer – Have you ever pored over a beautifully-written article and wished you could write with the same kind of flair? If so, this course is for you. Join Shani Raja—a former editor for the Wall Street Journal—as he shares practical techniques for making your writing sparkle. Shani dives into the mindset of an elite writer, spelling out the key principles that help great wordsmiths keep their writing purposeful, concise, and pleasurable to read. Learn how to avoid common issues that can weaken your prose, such as careless repetition and out-of-focus ideas. Plus, learn strategies that can help you craft elegant paragraphs and transitions, add freshness to your writing, and more.

Is There a Book in You? Learn to Create Your Own Masterpiece – Are you a passionate writer who’s always thought about writing a book, but didn’t know where to start? Maybe you have a kernel of an idea but don’t know how to expand on it. Or maybe you’ve had trouble finding your own voice. Or maybe you just don’t want to face rejection or criticism. This guide from genConnectU features lessons from renowned Irish author Sinead Moriarty, and guides you through the steps of unlocking the book you may have inside you.

Other Online Resources – Receive live assistance every day from 2pm to 11pm, including aid with academic and narrative writing

NoveList – Find your next read based on books you’ve enjoyed in the past; analyze fiction works based on their literary qualities to aid in your own writing journey

We hope this resource list is beneficial to your personal and professional goals. View other Starter Kit blog posts to explore more ways to enrich your life. You can find all of this and more at your local Plano Public Library

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