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Everything Memoir


What the heck is a memoir anyway?

What is the definition of a memoir?

QUESTION: What is the definition of memoir? This is something writers argue about because it's not really clear!


In the past, a memoir was usually written by a famous person such as a movie star or a politician. Famous memoirs by famous people include The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, and Elvis & Me by Priscilla Presley. They're usually written in chronological order, and include details on places, dates, and events in a person's life.


More recently, memoirs have become more personal, more creative, and more like a novel or a movie with vivid scenes. A memoir is often about a particular period of a person's life, not a whole life. If you're interested in writing a memoir, read a bunch of them to see how they're done (and avoid those by celebrities or politicians).


Great memoirs out right now include Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance; Educated by Tara Westover; Born a Crime by Trevor Noah; Undone by Michele Cushatt; and Birthing Hope by Rachel Stone.


Do you have a favorite memoir? I'd love to hear!

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