Writers On Writing / ‘Commitment is vital, everything else can be learned,’ Amanda Hampson on memoir writing

We spoke with bestselling author Amanda Hampson about the skills needed to write a good memoir, ahead of her course, Memoir Made Simple at Writing NSW.

Amanda Hampson

What is the secret to writing a good memoir?

Even if you’re not an experienced writer, you can learn ‘tricks of the trade’ that will bring your story to life. By creating an interesting structure, fleshing out scenes and adding some dialogue, you will add breadth and depth to your story. In the upcoming Memoir Made Simple course we will explore some of the techniques used in fiction writing that will make your memoir unputdownable.

Can you give any examples of inspiring memoirs?

The Reckoning by Magda Szubanski is an excellent memoir, well written with a strong narrative drive that makes it a page-turner. Over the course of the workshop, we will look at some of the techniques used in this book. I recently finished Educated by Tara Westover. An extraordinary and beautifully written story, it has a relatively complex structure but there is a lot to learn from her work too. There are many fabulous memoirs around so read as many as you can and you may stumble on the perfect structure for your own story.

Do you need special skills or experience to write a memoir?

Commitment is vital, everything else can be learned regardless of age or education. I’ve worked with many people writing their life stories in their eighties who have never written anything substantial before. Every one of them derived enormous satisfaction from the process of exploring their lives and were thrilled to be able to leave a legacy for generations to come. The key is to start!

Amanda Hampson is an internationally published, bestselling author of two non-fiction books and five novels: The Olive SistersTwo for the RoadThe French PerfumerThe Yellow Villa and Sixty Summers. Amanda created her highly successful Memoir Made Simple workshop eight years ago to share the techniques of fiction writing with people who want to write a compelling memoir or family history. She has taught this simple, but effective, method to hundreds of aspiring authors, and personally mentored dozens of writers through to completion and publication.

Join Amanda Hampson for her 6-week course, Memoir Made Simple, starting on Sunday 20 October at Writing NSW. 

Enrol now>>

Memoir Made Simple Amanda Hampson

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