Move from Personal Narratives to Memoir Writing


Move from Personal Narratives to Memoir Writing

Posted on December 23, 2008

Move from Personal Narratives to Memoir Writing

At the secondary level, consider moving beyond traditional narrative writing and try memoir writing. This genre doesn't cover an entire life, like writing an autobiography. And unlike a personal narrative, it goes beyond just retelling a single event or moment. A memoir is more insightful. It includes a combination of retelling a significant memory of a person, a place, or an event and then interjects the author's reflections. It digs below the surface and incorporates the significance or impact the event had on the author personally. If you'd like to read an example, one of my favorites is Ralph Fletcher's Marshfield Dreams: When I Was a Kid.

After students dabble with their own memoir writing, conclude the unit with a new twist on this genre-- 6-word memoirs. Have them synthesize their pieces into a single thought. This newly popular writing is fun, yet challenging. It might even make for a great title to their full-blown memoirs.

Here are some 6-word memoir examples:6 Traits of Writing--Trait of Ideas--6-Word Memoirs

Pessimist out loud; Optimist at heart.
I've learned more than I've taught.
Always the last in from recess.
Center of attention. Spotlight too bright.
Nine years old. Can't do anything.
Constantly hoping to like myself soon.
Wanted a pony, got a goldfish.
They say I'm like my mother...….
Autism taught me not to judge.
I'm middle aged... at 13 years.

Check out this website for thousands more 6-word memoirs.

If you try it with your own students, we'd love to hear how it goes, and even see some examples.