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Turning Memories Into Memoirs: A Handbook for Writing Lifestories [Paperback]

Denis Ledoux
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

September 1992 0961937327 978-0961937324
There is power in storytelling, and it is accessible to everyone. Turning Memories into Memoirs will initiate teachers and students into the process of writing their personal and family lifestories. With this book as a guide, teachers can help their students make decisions on what to write as well as on how and why to write their stories. Through workshops Denis Ledoux has taught hundreds of people to write their lifestories. Using the methods described in this book, teachers of junior high or advanced writing students can bring the magic of lifewriting into the classroom, for the students and their families.

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Review

"Anyone intent of writing a family history should read Turning Memories Into Memoirs." -- Baltimore Sun

"Turning Memories Into Memoirs is lively, timely, and practical" -- Yankee Magazine

About the Author

Denis Ledoux is the author of the best-selling lifewriting books on the market. The author of several short-story collections, in 1989, he won a Maine Fiction Award. In both1991 and 1996, he received a Maine Individual Writing Fellowship. He coaches and edits individual writers and leads an internatinal network of lifewriting workshop leaders. His work has been written up in Time, Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere. He lives and writes in Lisbon Falls, Maine.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Packed with Material..... April 22 2004
Format:Paperback
This book reminds me of a Workshop in a Book. The author suggests the reader first go through the first two chapters "Before You Start" and "Starting" and then, feel more free to "hop scotch" through the other chapters... actually, I added the hop scotch part, but hopefully you get the metaphor within the Life Writing review.
Strengths of this book include the check lists, the plethora of exercises to support your writing process. It definitely inspires action rather than just READING about memoir writing, if you follow through the book and work as you go, you will get your stories out and into tangible form.
I appreciated quotes from many writers who I admire such as Natalie Goldberg and Rainer Rilke.
The weaknesses of the book are the lay out (I would prefer a more spacious feeling - perhaps by taking out some of the workshop examples and allowing the reader/writer to be inspired by his/her own process instead) and some of the tone, which I could see bringing blocks to the writer (see, for example, the discussion of "Truth" and "Facts.")
I also notice and wanted to inform you there is also a strong sense of this book being a sales piece for the Soleil Network and the Workshops run by the author. Notes at the end - resources perhaps, would be fitting.... But there were these notices, and inserts, and the lengthy workshop examples..... so just to let you know that is there in case that is something that would get in the way of receiving full value for you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Complete guide to memoir writing Oct. 14 2000
By Maryanne Raphael - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book can change your life. It has all the information, enthusiasm and tools you need to turn your own experiences into a successful book.. Even more important, it can help you see the beauty and magic of daily life, examine your inner self , begin to heal the hidden wounds, and recognize your deepest feelings and fondest dreams. It can help you find order and meaning in the chaos of existence and give you a glimpse of who you are and what you really want to be.
The author's advice is simple to understand and easy to follow. All you need to do is drop your inhibitions. "..start with the writing skills you have. As you write you will learn more about writing and your skills will increase." He tells us Writing is our best teacher.
Author Ledoux feels that most people are afraid of writing and his book shows you how to overcome your fears and produce interesting, dramatic meaningful stories. He breaks writing a book down into parts and guides you through one step at a time. To begin he shows you how to make time for writing by following a schedule of pages or time . He helps you shift through your memories and choose which ones to write about. He helps you see and describe details that make your stories come alive . He shows you how to do interviews and intensive research, how to choose a point of view, how to avoid cliches, redundancies and stereotypes, how to be precise and clear.
Not only every writer, but every reader can benefit from this book. By introducing you to the ancient art of storytelling, it reaffirms the meaning of life.. It takes you on a magical journey back in time and gives you the tools to become the bridge to connect your ancestors to your descendants.
By Maryanne Raphael Writers World
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Animate Your Memories Jan. 24 2002
By Susan Shotthafer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Few of us are blessed with the recorded memories of our parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents. Perhaps, until recently, many of us gave little thought to preserving our memories for family members who follow us. The idea that "ordinary" people possess life experiences holding the power to reassure, encourage, and inspire their grandchildren and great-grandchildren is increasingly gaining attention and respect.
Maybe, on your own initiative, you have decided to strengthen the bond you have created with your grandchildren by beginning to record your life experiences to share with them. Or, maybe for some time, your children have been pestering you to record your memories.
But, perhaps you have written little in years. Or, perhaps you have only a slight notion of the procedure for this seemingly daunting task of composing memoirs. Denis Ledoux, author of Turning Memories Into Memoirs, understands the uncertainties that can overwhelm when we do not know how and where to begin writing the stories of our lives. Convinced that "everybody's got a story," Ledoux, a published fiction and non-fiction writer with years of experience teaching at both the secondary and university level, has incorporated the sum of his skills and knowledge into his Turning Memories Into Memoirs. His additional fourteen years of experience in teaching life story writing workshops provide first-hand expertise in the instruction of memoir writing.
Ledoux's Turning Memories Into Memoirs offers advice for planning and adhering to a regularly scheduled writing time. This memory writng guide will enable you to write memories that your family members will want to read again and again by teaching you to include and focus on the elements fundamental to all successful storytelling. Ledoux teaches you how to organize and prioritize your stories so that you will be sure to begin with memories that best exemplify the life you have lived. His in-depth discussion of the requisite for truthful storytelling and advice for dealing with controversy provides guidance for first-time storytellers facing the dilemma of wanting to write honestly without being harsh or offensive. Just a few other topics covered are "memory jogs," painful memories, the avoidance of preaching, and "the finished product." Included, you will also find memoirs written by Ledoux's workshop participants. Ledoux's guide is comprehensive yet concise and answers virtually every question you might have when you write your memoirs.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Packed with Material..... April 22 2004
By Julie Jordan Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book reminds me of a Workshop in a Book. The author suggests the reader first go through the first two chapters "Before You Start" and "Starting" and then, feel more free to "hop scotch" through the other chapters... actually, I added the hop scotch part, but hopefully you get the metaphor within the Life Writing review.
Strengths of this book include the check lists, the plethora of exercises to support your writing process. It definitely inspires action rather than just READING about memoir writing, if you follow through the book and work as you go, you will get your stories out and into tangible form.
I appreciated quotes from many writers who I admire such as Natalie Goldberg and Rainer Rilke.
The weaknesses of the book are the lay out (I would prefer a more spacious feeling - perhaps by taking out some of the workshop examples and allowing the reader/writer to be inspired by his/her own process instead) and some of the tone, which I could see bringing blocks to the writer (see, for example, the discussion of "Truth" and "Facts.")
I also notice and wanted to inform you there is also a strong sense of this book being a sales piece for the Soleil Network and the Workshops run by the author. Notes at the end - resources perhaps, would be fitting.... But there were these notices, and inserts, and the lengthy workshop examples..... so just to let you know that is there in case that is something that would get in the way of receiving full value for you.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Animate Your Memories Jan. 24 2002
By Susan Shotthafer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Few of us are blessed with the recorded memories of our parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents. Perhaps, until recently, many of us gave little thought to preserving our memories for family members who follow us. The idea that "ordinary" people possess life experiences holding the power to reassure, encourage, and inspire their grandchildren and great-grandchildren is increasingly gaining attention and respect.
Maybe, on your own initiative, you have decided to strengthen the bond you have created with your grandchildren by beginning to record your life experiences to share with them. Or, maybe for some time, your children have been pestering you to record your memories.
But, perhaps you have written little in years. Or, perhaps you have only a slight notion of the procedure for this seemingly daunting task of composing memoirs. Denis Ledoux, author of Turning Memories Into Memoirs, understands the uncertainties that can overwhelm when we do not know how and where to begin writing the stories of our lives. Convinced that "everybody's got a story," Ledoux, a published fiction and non-fiction writer with years of experience teaching at both the secondary and university level, has incorporated the sum of his skills and knowledge into his Turning Memories Into Memoirs. His additional fourteen years of experience in teaching life story writing workshops provide first-hand expertise in the instruction of memoir writing.
Ledoux's Turning Memories Into Memoirs offers advice for planning and adhering to a regularly scheduled writing time. This memory writng guide will enable you to write memories that your family members will want to read again and again by teaching you to include and focus on the elements fundamental to all successful storytelling. Ledoux teaches you how to organize and prioritize memories so that you will be sure to begin with memories that best exemplify the life you have lived. His in-depth discussion of the requisite for truthful storytelling and advice for dealing with controversy provides guidance for first-time storytellers facing the dilemma of wanting to write honestly without being harsh or offensive. Just a few other topics covered are "memory jogs," painful memories, the avoidance of preaching, and "the finished product." Included, you will also find memoirs written by Ledoux's workshop participants. Ledoux's guide is comprehensive yet concise and answers virtually every question you might have when you write your memoirs.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of terrific tips July 8 2009
By Joseph Oppenheim - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book has lots of terrific tips in writing one's life story/memoir, like:

1. Don't lose stories. We are the stories we tell. We are the stories which family members tell about us and themselves.

2. A life story is a gift one generation bestows to another generation.

3. See which family patterns are revealed across generations.

4. Make a list of 10-20 of the most important events in one's life.

5. Look at your life in a sociological, historical and cultural context.

6. Create an extended list of relationships/events which shaped your life, then group them, to narrow down to a core list.

7. Think of people as characters in a story. Create a story with plot, action, and settings. Refer to senses - don't use abstract words.

8. Stories also need a point of view and tone. A tone could be pity, admiration, etc.

9. Start stories close to the climax, in order to create suspense.

10. Different choices for organization - chronological, thematic (like religion, careers, etc.), and biographical, or a combination.

11 Chronologies can be dull - add action and suspense, which imply consequences later on.

12. Besides just facts (the "what") go into the "why".

13. Underlying the writings should be a theme/message - the way you understand the story. The theme is "who am I", "why I became so", etc. It is OK to begin w/o a theme and discover it in the process. The theme affects every fact in the story. Having a theme can also help to avoid writer's block.

14. Personal myths - how we perceive the world/life can be part of the story. Archetypes - instincts, patterns of thought - like a martyr being always a giver, orphan who doesn't develop or maintain personal ties, prince-left-at-the-pauper's-door like always aspiring to more than is expected.

15. There is no correct sequence in writing one's story.

16. Don't preach - just tell your story.

17. Use transitions to link stories. Write in the active voice, not passive. Write in the first person. Always italicize foreign words.

18. Don't recap, it's an insult to readers. Always look to eliminate the last paragraph.

19. Verisimilitude - must seem true, real - not too many details. Avoid cliches, stereotypes. Be complete, concise, not redundant. Use the 10% rule look to eliminate 10%, to force conciseness.

20. Slow down. It's a process.

A terrific book!
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