Memoir

by Ruth
(Toronto, Canada)

Question: I want to write my memoir. Problem is, all of the articles and books I've read on memoir say that it should include lots of dialogue. Unfortunately, I didn't start conversing with other people until my mid-twenties - and that's what my memoir is about! So how do I include lots of dialogue in a memoir that is about the lack of dialogue in my life? I thought of using "internal dialogue" instead, but I think that could get pretty tiresome for the reader... Any suggestions?


Answer: Yes.

First of all, stop worrying about trite rules such as "include lots of dialogue." Yes, dialogue has its uses. But a rule like that is too much of a generalization to be useful. (E.g. How much is "lots"?) A good amount of dialogue in one story or genre could be too much or too little in another.

Your concern is how to tell your particular story in a way that connects with the reader on an emotional and intellectual level. You'll know it's right when it feels right to you and others. Bear in mind that every writer has to find their own style and voice -- and that may be different for each story they write.

That said, even if your story is about the experience of not talking, you can still include dialogue. For instance, you might include conversations you overheard.

A lot of readers may find it interesting to read about the experience of how you went through your formative years as an outsider to or observer of conversations rather than a participant, what sort of perspective that gave you, and how it affected you.

Also, it can be fascinating to discover what is going on inside the head of the one person in a group who never speaks. It's like opening a window into a whole new world. So I imagine your internal thoughts could be an important part of your story.

Best of luck.

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