What if you learned a BIG life lesson? 

We’re not talking small, specific advice like ‘Don’t eat mouldy meat’ but big understanding like ‘How almost dying from food poisoning taught me how to live a better life’. 

For example, maybe life has taught you:

  • how to work at achieving a goal
  • a better understanding of yourself and other people
  • ways to survive a bad situation, or enjoy a good one.

You think your story could help or inspire other people.

The end product would be a memoir.

Memoirs are stories where people talk about an important period in their lives. They then use that situation to tell a story about what they’ve learned about life.

Here’s an example.

Until I began to build and launch rockets, I didn’t know my hometown was at war with itself over its children and that my parents were locked in a kind of bloodless combat over how my brother and I would live our lives.

What is your reaction to this snippet? What do you think this story will be about?

In Rocket Boys, Homer uses his personal situation—a high schooler building rockets in a small mining town—to tell a story about believing in your dreams, being a team player, the value of hard work, and parent-child relationships. These are some of the themes of the book.

No. While they’re both narratives about a person’s life (written by the person who lived it), there are a couple of key differences.

An autobiography: 

  • uses a factual writing style
  • covers an entire life 
  • stays in chronological order
  • keeps the narrative distant, always looking at the big picture

A memoir:

  • uses storytelling
  • covers the important events that help tell the story
  • includes opinions and feelings about these events
  • can go back and forward in time, if that helps explain things
  • can get personal and emotional

In this lesson, we’re going to look at some of the unique features of a memoir. For the final task, you’ll write a passage that combines these features.

You don’t have to write about huge life lessons in this lesson, but you can:

  • write something true about your life 
  • make something up about your life, or
  • imagine someone else’s life.

Let’s go!