Author Talk

Guest Post: 5 Tips to Start Your Memoir

October 17, 2019

Hey, everyone! I know it’s been awhile (school’s really kicking my butt this semester), but I’m so excited to bring you this guest post by Antoinette Truglio Martin. Her memoir, Hug Everyone You Know, tells her story of her journey after being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. And just for anyone else who might be wanting to write their own memoir — she has some tips for you.

Here’s some more about her:

Antoinette Truglio Martin is a life-long Long Islander, teacher, wife, mother, daughter, and friend. She is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer—a memoir chronicling her first year battling breast cancer as a wimpy patient. Personal experience essays and excerpts of her memoir were published in Bridges, Visible Ink, and The Southampton Review. Martin proudly received her MFA in creative writing and literature from Stony Brook/Southampton University in 2016. Antoinette had also written the children’s picture book, Famous Seaweed Soup (Albert Whitman and Company), and was a regular columnist for local periodicals Parent Connections (In a Family Way) and Fire Island Tide (Beach Bumming). Her blog, Stories Served Around The Table, tells family tales and life’s musings. Since being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2012, she strives to not let cancer to dictate her life. 


Five Tips To Start a Memoir by Antoinette Truglio Martin

You established your writing space. Bought fresh notebooks and pens, and charged the laptop. You believe a window to your life is interesting enough to warrant the time, sweat, and angst to finally write that memoir. Your perspective and thoughts will be the center of attention. But writing a memoir is an arduous journey. Here are a few tips to get started.

1️⃣ Keep it honest.

Although a memoir accounts for a first-person perspective, descriptions of events, settings, and time need to be true. Every writer has permission to embellish, but creating a tall tale will only discredit your credibility.

2️⃣ Identify your audience and purpose.

As you sit down to write, you must ask yourself, who am I telling this story to, and why is it so important? Is your account meant for a circle of friends and family that may explain a history or mystery? Does your memoir speak to a vast population who may find your story uplifting, helpful, confirming? Can your story offer answers or a new perspective on an issue? Keep the audience and purpose in mind as you write.

3️⃣ Tighten the timeline.

Start from where the revelation, epiphany, life detour took place. Relevant background information could be placed in appropriate scenes to clarify characters and settings. A memoir is not a linear autobiography. It is an account of episodes that lead to life-altering states of mind, body, and/or spirit. A loose outline may help organize scenes allowing your story to move forward. 

4️⃣ Cultivate writer friends.

These are people who understand the process and task of writing, are willing to read your work, and offer kind yet honest critic. A community of writers is an essential ingredient when embarking on a memoir writing journey. Together, you will hear and see the storytelling’s unfolding, tweak for the sake of clarity, and remove and add where needed. Be sure to be a kind and generous critic to your friends’ work as well.

5️⃣ Speak to the subject.

Can you talk about the episodes you are writing about? Some themes are tough and painful to revisit out loud. It may be just enough to put it down on paper and leave it in a box. However, if you plan to publish and promote your book, you will need to retell the story and apply the learned outcomes as part of your expertise. Research other experts and practice talking.

A bit of organization, awareness of expectations, and a mindset to write will give you a healthy start to writing the story you need to tell.

Ready? Go!


Martin’s guest post is a part of the Hug Everyone You Know blog tour. Find more tour stops, guest posts and reviews for Born Under Fire by visiting one of the blogs listed in the picture below.

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