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The Truth of Memoir: How to Write about Yourself and Others with Honesty, Emotion, and Integrity

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  68 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Baring the Truth in Your Memoir

When you write a memoir or personal essay, you dare to reveal the truths of your experience: about yourself, and about others in your life. How do you expose long-guarded secrets and discuss bad behavior? How do you gracefully portray your family members, friends, spouses, exes, and children without damaging your relationships? How do you bal
Paperback, 235 pages
Published December 1st 2014 by Writer's Digest Books (first published October 31st 2014)
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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  68 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Ramona Mead
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
While this book didn't necessarily "teach" me things I wasn't already aware of as a memoir writer, it provides me with factual examples and advice from published memoirists. It reassures me that the challenges I face and things I worry about as I write, are common to all writers of the genre. It gives me a wide range of answers to some of the questions I have and reiterated the big answer, which is: you absolutely truly cannot know how anyone is going to respond to your writing. It also reminded ...more
Lisa Shultz
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Writers of memoir
Shelves: writing
A comprehensive view of the writing of a memoir. I highly encourage any memoir writer read it before publishing. Both sides of the coin are shown through stories and examples. Whether you are writing about family, friends, ex's, bad behavior, etc. it is worth considering reactions and preparing the best you are able to withstand the responses of those who know you and/or the press or even complete strangers. The appendix offers and excellent resource list on writing memoirs and a list of publish ...more
Dina Friedman
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Super helpful book that addresses all the major questions a new memoirist would have like: will I be sued if I write this, or how true should true be, or what if I write something embarrassing like about sex etc. My copy is dog-eared, flagged and highlighted with so many helpful tips so I can refer to again and again. There's also a fantastic recommended reading list at the end. Highly recommend this gripping and motivating book to anyone considering writing a memoir.
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, the best book I have read on memoir writing especially for someone like me uncomfortable about writing about others living or not. Has 3 types of sections: by the author, by other memoir writers, and exercises. I skipped the exercises but they did pose some interesting questions.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Another good overview of memoir, but the softer, more emotional side of things. Some of these seemed a little obvious to me, but I think that makes it a good overview for beginners. The section on prepping for the media's response to your memoir was by far the best and most worth it.
Rick Davis
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As I am in the midst of writing a book about leadership that incorporates my life experiences, I found this book to be very useful. Especially in the area of how to deal with people that are still alive and experiences where my own behavior was less than stellar.
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A resounding five stars from me. Also, my to-read list is now officially long enough to last me for the rest of my life ;-)
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was an informative book with a number of good suggestions.

If you are interested in writing a memoir this would be a very decent reference book.
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I won this book in a contest, but it had been on my to-read list as part of my research in writing about your family history. Most people who wish to write about their family history probably won't do it as a memoir because a lot of it didn't happen to them. However, there are some people, adoptees searching for their biological family for example, who may wish to do so. With that in mind, I wanted to read this book.
If you plan on writing a memoir, I do highly recommend this book. I don't have a
Kerry Cohen gets right to the point that troubles memoir writers--how do you handle sensitive material? Should you wait for your parents to die if your memoir will hurt them? What about your memories compared to other members of your family who may not have the same memories? How should you write about someone who is disabled? How about small children--they will have an opinion at some point in their lives about what you write.

Cohen does more than say, "this is YOUR book and YOUR memories"--alth
S. Gari
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read Loose Girl by Cohen and fell in love with her style. As a writer of memoir myself, I found The Truth of Memoir invaluable, especially chapter 7 on legal issues. This is a must read for anyone even thinking about writing a memoir. But even if you just like reading personal stories, you'll love the book. Cohen artfully defines the parameters of memoir and gleans advice from authors well-versed in every subset of the genre. The greatest gift of this book is that it compiles advice about the ...more
Oct 01, 2016 rated it liked it
This is absolutely the kind of book I needed to read. As I've decided to pick up a sort of how-to/memoir manuscript I started like five years ago, to tinker with it again. I keep thinking about sharing *other* people's stories and the best way to do so kindly. Cohen covers this fully through her own experience and through other memoirists' experiences. I wish there was a more black & white rule: when to share, how to share, if you need to contact people you haven't seen in years, decades, an ...more
Kelly Chastain
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A great behind the scenes look at writing memoir. Everything from keeping and telling secrets to how to not get sued. I think the insights from other memoirists about their experiences was the single most valuable take away from this book. Just hearing how others dealt with family and friends, both pre and post-publication was helpful and encouraging. This book feels like you're sitting around the dining room table and talking about writing with your best writing pals.
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-writing
Lots of good sound advice here, backed up by examples from a variety of writers of all ranks. My copy is earmarked and post-it-noted, and it has helped me give feedback in my creative non-fiction class. A good resource.

Note on a potential danger with this book: you go broke buying all the memoirs you hear tantalizing snippets of in these pages.
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
The chapter on legal issues is quite informative.
Feb 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: year-2015
I'm beginning to journal again and write again so I've been looking at various books on storytelling. This book was okay but the advice on it is pretty much common sense.
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Kerry Cohen is the author of Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity; Seeing Ezra: A Mother’s Story of Autism, Unconditional Love, and The Meaning of Normal; Dirty Little Secrets: Breaking the Silence on Teenage Girls and Promiscuity; as well as three young adult novels – Easy; The Good Girl; and It’s Not You, It’s Me. Her essays have been featured in The New York Times' "Modern Love" series, The Wash ...more
“Depicting yourself as a whole person on the page doesn’t only mean recognizing your role in a bad situation. It means being emotionally authentic. It means showing all of yourself: the shameful parts, the embarrassing parts, the parts that you might regret or that you wish weren’t true.” 2 likes
“A sort of intimacy is forged when someone reads your book and both you and your reader wind up less alone in the world.” 0 likes
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