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How to Write the Story of Your Life [Paperback]

Frank Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 15 1989
How to Write the Story of Your Life shows writers how to mine the depths of their experience to write an engaging and saleable memoir. Frank P. Thomas gives readers the instruction they need to write the stories of their lives, including: The five Rs essential to the completion and publishing of a life story; research, remembering, 'riting, reading and reproduction Hundreds of memory sparkers to get readers started Organizational techniques for developing a writing plan and how to work with photos and documents Memories and the author's expert guidance are all writers need to leave a legacy for generations to come.

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About the Author

Frank P. Thomas had a long career in journalism, public relations and teaching.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read For Autobiographers June 25 2000
Format:Paperback
I've worked most of my adult life as an actor. One of my grandchildren was watching television and saw an old movie in which I appeared. "Grandpa, is that you?" After having to explain what I did for a living, it occurred to me that I was no different. I knew very little about my ancestors. At the time, I didn't know what my own grandfather (who died before I was born) did for a living. I wanted to make sure that future generations of my family know that I existed and what I did for a living. It was then that I realized how important it was to write my life's story to preserve my legacy.
Of all the books I researched when I first set out to undertake this task, I found Frank P. Thomas' "How to Write the Story of Your Life" to be among the most concise and most helpful. It became my constant companion as I spent those long hours at night in my study pounding away on my keyboard or sitting at the dining room table handwriting a vignette to be added to the book.
Thomas' book is laid out in an easy-to-read format, lending itself not only as a step-by-step guide, but sectionalized in such a way as to be used as a handy research resource manual. There is a lot of sound advice contained within his book that I found to be highly effective. For example, it helps not to ignore news and current events occurring during the telling of one's life, even if you don't actually relate the news items directly. By spending a few hours in the library to research certain magazine articles and newspaper headlines from a particular period, I found my memory banks were stimulated and I was often able to capture a flavor of the political climate, social mores, fashions, and/or cultural fads of the time. Those influences were incorporated into the events of my life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well organized; great prompts Nov. 10 2000
By Dawn
Format:Paperback
This is a great read for those interested in writing their life story. Mr. Thomas goes from early childhood through retirement, and being a 20-something, some of the information did not apply. However, it is still well worth the reading. He has specific prompts, and works with small "chunks" of life. Entwined are guides to good writing, and other aspects of writing a great story.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
113 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read For Autobiographers June 25 2000
By Shawn McAllister - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've worked most of my adult life as an actor. One of my grandchildren was watching television and saw an old movie in which I appeared. "Grandpa, is that you?" After having to explain what I did for a living, it occurred to me that I was no different. I knew very little about my ancestors. At the time, I didn't know what my own grandfather (who died before I was born) did for a living. I wanted to make sure that future generations of my family know that I existed and what I did for a living. It was then that I realized how important it was to write my life's story to preserve my legacy.
Of all the books I researched when I first set out to undertake this task, I found Frank P. Thomas' "How to Write the Story of Your Life" to be among the most concise and most helpful. It became my constant companion as I spent those long hours at night in my study pounding away on my keyboard or sitting at the dining room table handwriting a vignette to be added to the book.
Thomas' book is laid out in an easy-to-read format, lending itself not only as a step-by-step guide, but sectionalized in such a way as to be used as a handy research resource manual. There is a lot of sound advice contained within his book that I found to be highly effective. For example, it helps not to ignore news and current events occurring during the telling of one's life, even if you don't actually relate the news items directly. By spending a few hours in the library to research certain magazine articles and newspaper headlines from a particular period, I found my memory banks were stimulated and I was often able to capture a flavor of the political climate, social mores, fashions, and/or cultural fads of the time. Those influences were incorporated into the events of my life. Sometimes I was able to relate to current events of the time directly, which helps to allow readers to identify with you personally.
Another important lesson I learned was that in order to capture and maintain a reader's attention, you must stimulate as many of his/her senses as you can. Therefore, I found myself going through my text trying to find places where I could introduce stimuli to sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
This is but a mere sampling of the invaluable direction I received from Thomas. The result was my autobiography was published under the title "Surrender the Jealous Mistress" (available through amazon.com), which I'm told is engaging and reads like a novel. If that's true, then I attribute a large portion of that compliment to Frank Thomas' sound advice and guidance.
No matter how insignificant you may perceive it to be (it's not), I encourage you to attempt to write your life's story. Once that decision is made, I highly recommend obtaining a copy of Frank Thomas' book, "How to Write the Story of Your Life," to guide you through the process.
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well organized; great prompts Nov. 10 2000
By Dawn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a great read for those interested in writing their life story. Mr. Thomas goes from early childhood through retirement, so having been born in the 1970s, some of the information did not apply personally. However, it is still well worth the reading. He has specific prompts, and works with small "chunks" of life. Entwined are guides to good writing, and other aspects of writing a great story.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Dated "Memoir Writing for Dummies" Feb. 15 2007
By H. Laack - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Had Thomas written this a decade or so later, it would have been a great inclusion in the "For Dummies" series. He uses lots of lists and fills his chapters with idea starters for anyone interested in documenting his or her own life for posterity. Given that many who seek to write their own memoirs will not have any real writing background or training, Thomas provides a good range of basic writing hints as well.

The author includes literally hundreds of questions that would be good joggers for those having difficulty thinking of anything "worthwhile" to write about themselves and could also be a resource for anyone seeking to learn more about their own family's oldest generation. Unfortunately, the book's sample memoirs and even some of these questions seem dated (not surprising, given that the book has been in print over 20 years!). Of even more concern is the lack of updating to current technology; computers are essentially non-existent, so his hints on things like first drafts and final format for publishing are irrelevant.

For the price, this is a good book to have just for the idea starters, but it will need supplementing with more recent texts for anyone interested in writing memoir from start to finish.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy Read Dec 14 2007
By Cinnamon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Still reading, but, it's a pretty easy read. Was recommended by my Uncle who used this book to help him write his own life story which has been published. After reading my Uncles book, I was really impressed in how he put it all together, and he attributes it all to reading this book, which gives me the confidence to do the same. After all, we all have a story to tell, do we not?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No one can write your story like you can, Write it!! April 7 2007
By Rebecca D. Turner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Everyone needs to write the story of their life. My parents did not write their's which makes me sad because their story will never really be told. But by writing my own story, I was able to write some of theirs from my perspective and how they influenced my life and helped make me become who I am. As a new author, myself, I was cautioned about including a section at the end of the book, about the story of my life. I can tell you that I receive as many comments about "my story" as I do about the content of my book, which is a business book. Ask yourself why is reality TV so popular? Write the story of your life using the easy techniques outlined so well in this book, the loved ones you leave behind will appreciate it!

Rebecca D. Turner author of "Tattoo" a business book, read it-grow your business-enjoy your life!!Tattoo
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