Memoir Basics 4: Writing an eye-catching opener

Memoir openers

Opening with a personal statement

Some memoir writers feel they need to explain something about themselves first before continuing. It could be that they feel this information is important to know before they tell their story. 

In the opening of her memoir, US Soccer star Carli Lloyd felt it was important to define one key aspect of her personality, so she begins with a strong statement and then expands on it several times.

I don’t do fake. That’s the first thing you should know about me. I’m not one to put on airs or change my demeanor, depending on where I am or who I am talking to. I don’t much care about the red carpet or being on the cover of magazines. I don’t put on makeup when I’m getting ready for a game, because why would I? I am gearing up for battle.

When Nobody was Watching: My Hard-Fought Journey to the Top of the Soccer WorldCarli LloydWayne CoffeySource
Our thoughts...

Opening with a personal statement doesn’t tell you too much about the plot or themes. We’re guessing that, in the case of Lloyd, that doesn’t matter. You’re reading the story because you know who she is and want to know more about her.

Here are some examples based on the snippet.

I tell jokes in stressful situations. That’s an important thing to know about me. It’s something I’ve tried to stop, but can’t. And the more stressful the situation, the more jokes blurt out. I can’t avoid situations like exams, or meeting strangers, or funerals, because how can you? They’re just a part of life.

I have a hard time with authority. That’s something people need to understand about me. When people in charge tell me what to do I, without fail, have the sudden urge to do the exact opposite, even if what they say makes perfect sense. It’s the ‘telling’ part that makes my mind flip and gets me in trouble, I think. I don’t do what I’m told, because why should I? I’m the only one in charge of me.

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