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Memoirs Editing: The Ultimate Guide

By January 31, 2023 No Comments

Are you a writer looking to tell your story or share the journey of someone else’s life? How about yourself, a family member, or an inspirational figure from history? If so, then memoirs are just the projects for you. Whether you’re writing in first-person narrative form or researching facts to write an objective biography, authors need to make sure that their stories adhere to certain conventions and rules of good writing.

That’s why most author hires a memoir editor. Editing gives your work—from grammar to organization—structure and accuracy; it makes sure readers stay engaged with your story while also staying on track with the main characters’ journeys. 

Memoir Editing - The Ultimate Guide

Photo by Clay Banks.

What is a Memoir?

A memoir is a type of personal narrative in which the author reflects on an event or experience from their life. This genre has somewhat looser rules than other forms of nonfiction, as authors are free to express their opinions and emotions freely while keeping facts accurate. It’s also important that the story being told is timely and relevant; this type of work should not be outdated.

Memoir vs. Autobiography: What’s the Difference?

At first glance, a memoir and an autobiography can look very much alike. They both tell the story of a person’s life, often in chronological order. So what is the difference between them?

The primary distinction between a memoir and an autobiography is that while an autobiography typically covers the entirety of someone’s life from birth to the present, a memoir is focused on one particular event or period in the person’s life.

Memoirs are often more personal and reflective than autobiographies, as they allow the author to focus on a specific time that had a major impact on their life. They might explore themes like coming of age, overcoming adversity, or living through a traumatic event.

Autobiographies, on the other hand, are more comprehensive and factual accounts of someone’s life story. They may include facts about family members, childhood experiences, education and career history, and significant events or relationships in their life journeys.

In general, autobiographies provide a broader overview of a person’s life and can cover a longer span of time than memoirs. Memoirs, on the other hand, provide an intimate look at a specific moment in the author’s life story.

What is the Purpose of Editing a Memoir?

Editing and proofreading are essential steps in the writing process, no matter what kind of book you’re creating. It’s necessary to ensure that all facts are accurate and presented clearly for readers to understand; that any mistakes in grammar, spelling, and punctuation are caught; and that the narrative flows logically from one scene to the next without confusing readers.

Memoir editing is especially important for authors to consider because of its personal nature. Readers need to be able to trust the author, which means they must know they can rely on accurate facts while still being engaged by the emotional story and characters. Through a professional memoir editor’s eyes, they can ensure this balance is achieved.

How Often should Memoir Editing be Done?

When editing a memoir, it’s important to stay consistent and keep editing even after the first draft is complete. It’s recommended that authors edit their work at least three times before submitting it for publication: once when writing the initial draft, another time when the manuscript is almost complete, and one final time before submitting it for publication.

It’s also a good idea to enlist the help of a professional editor or writing review service at least twice throughout this process. They can provide valuable feedback and insight on how you can improve your work, helping to ensure that readers remain engaged with your story and that its narrative arc makes sense.

What Services do Professional Memoir Editors Provide?

A professional memoir editor will review the entire manuscript, from start to finish, to make sure that it meets the standards of good writing, as well as being a compelling and satisfying read. Depending on their area of expertise, a memoir editor will offer any combination of services such as:

Fact-Checking and Verification: The editor will check to make sure that all facts and details are accurate, and they may even contact individuals or organizations mentioned in the memoir to verify some of these facts.

Grammar and Syntax: Editors make sure that all grammar, punctuation, spelling, and syntax are correct throughout the manuscript. This will ensure that readers understand the story without getting lost in confusing sentences or paragraphs.

Organizational Assistance: Professional editors can help you organize your memoir more effectively, ensuring that there is a strong narrative arc and clarity of purpose. They can also work with you to identify any plot holes or inconsistencies that need to be addressed before submitting your manuscript for publication.

Structural Editing: Professional editors have an eye for spotting structural problems in a book, such as overly dense descriptions or lack of transition between scenes. They can help you to rearrange and revise sections for better flow.

Reworking Dialogue: An experienced editor can bring life and authenticity to your dialogue, making sure that it reflects the characters’ personalities and emotions accurately.

Ghostwriting: Some memoir editors specialize in ghostwriting, where they can help authors develop characters, tone, and arc. This can be a great way to give your story more depth and complexity.

No matter what services you enlist a professional editor for, the goal of memoir editing is to make sure that your story is given its best chance at success. A good editor will help you craft an engaging and honest narrative that readers can enjoy and connect with on a personal level.

In Conclusion

Memoir editing is an essential part of the writing and publishing process. A professional editor can make sure that your story is engaging, accurate, and consistent throughout. They offer a variety of services, such as fact-checking and verification, grammar and syntax editing, organizational assistance, structural editing, dialogue reworking, and even ghostwriting if needed. By enlisting the help of a professional editor, you can ensure that your memoir is given its best chance at success. 


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