Memoir Basics 4: Writing an eye-catching opener

Memoir openers

Opening by talking about the themes

This opener tells you straight away that it’s not just about it’s rocket-building main story—there’s a lot more going on. 

It starts by talking about the main plot, but moves to some of the big ideas and learning Homer has over the course of the story—also known as themes

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.

Rocket BoysHomer HickmanSource
Our thoughts...

On the surface, this snippet is all about the odd combination of building rockets vs town/family conflict. Taking a step backward, the opener is about growing up:

  • When Homer was starting to build rockets, he was also starting to notice more about the world around him.
  • He watched the different reactions towards what he was doing and questioned them.

These are all typical elements of a coming of age story.

For your writing, choose an activity and add some big unexpected learning about relationships or your community.

Here are some examples of what you could do.

It wasn’t until I joined the school choir, that I learned that my school was split about it’s attitude towards anything artistic and that my parents had a long history of protesting against cuts against music programs.

Until I started working for my Aunt Frida, I didn’t realise my neighbourhood had shunned my entire family and that racism was alive and well in my town.

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