Kelly's Picks: Writing Life Stories

Whether you’re creating a memoir or a personal essay, Writing Life Stories, 2nd edition, shows you how to tell your story in a manner that captivates and engages readers. 
Author:
Publish date:

Kelly's thoughts on Writing Life Stories:

Image placeholder title

The fully revised, tenth anniversary edition of Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach with Kristen Keckler, Ph.D., is an amazing resource on writing emotionally powerful memoirs and personal essays.

I remember when former Writer’s Digest Books editor Lauren Mosko was working on this book. She kept sending me these short little emails saying things like, “I just had to share this beautiful passage with you!” And she was right—the passages in this book are lovely and detailed. At once instructional and moving. A true—are rare—feat!

Bill teaches you how to write powerful nonfiction by writing it himself, as he seamlessly weaves focused lessons, unique exercises, and illustrative stories of his own life and experiences into a perfect blend. Writing Life Stories contains invaluable technical instruction on matters like developing compelling characters (the May/June 2009 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine contains an excerpt from the book that explores this topic), shaping scenes from experience, and accessing and working with memories. In an online excerpt, Bill expands on this last point and acknowledges the difficulties associated with writing from a memory:

Memory is faulty. That’s one of the tenets of memoir. And the reader comes to memoir understanding that memory is faulty, that the writer is going to challenge the limits of memory, which is quite different from lying. One needn’t apologize. The reader also comes expecting that the writer is operating in good faith, that is, doing her best to get the facts right.

Even Phillip Lopate, the man behind the revered book The Art of the Personal Essay is quick to acknowledge the value of Bill’s instruction, saying: “Bill Roorbach’s Writing Life Stories is brimming with valuable suggestions, evocative assignments, insights into the writing process, and shrewd common sense. I can’t wait to try some of his ideas in the classroom and on myself. This writing guide delivers the goods.”

For his part, Bill says he hopes this new edition inspires readers, adding, “I hope writers get the sense that their stories are valuable and necessary, and that taking the time to tell them well will pay its own rewards. Writing is hard, but not writing is harder, if you’re a storyteller like me.” (You can read more from Bill in an exclusive Q&A.)

If you'd like to purchase Writing Life Stories, click here.

Further Your Education with Writer's Digest:
Fundamentals of Life Stories Writing
Writing the Personal Essay: Advanced
Essentials of Writing Personal Essays II: Advanced

6 Books Perfect for Fall Reading

6 Books Perfect for Fall Reading

Whether you're looking for something cozy or a little spooky, these books are perfect for the fall season.

NaNoWriMo: To Prep or Not to Prep?

NaNoWriMo: To Prep or Not to Prep?

When it comes to a 30 day writing challenge like NaNoWriMo, do you need to prep beforehand to achieve success? Well, that might depend on what kind of writer you are.

Sarah Echavarre Smith: On Going for the Out-There Ideas

Sarah Echavarre Smith: On Going for the Out-There Ideas

Copywriter and author Sarah Echavarre Smith discusses the process of writing her new romance novel, On Location.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 583

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a fall poem.

5 Thrilling Adventure Terms Every Writer Should Know (And Why)

5 Thrilling Adventure Terms Every Writer Should Know (And Why)

For over a decade, author Joshua Glenn has been researching adventure-related terms. Now, he's sharing what he's learned for other writers to add to their lexicon.

Moral Compass

Moral Compass

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, write about someone with an unfailing moral compass.

Daniel Levin Becker: On the Forgotten Art of Letter Writing

Daniel Levin Becker: On the Forgotten Art of Letter Writing

Author, translator, and editor Daniel Levin Becker discusses his hopes for future letter writing like those featured in the new anthology, Dear McSweeney's: Two Decades of Letters to the Editor from Writers, Readers, and the Occasional Bewildered Consumer.

e.g. vs. i.e. (Grammar Rules)

e.g. vs. i.e. (Grammar Rules)

Let's look at the differences between e.g. and i.e. with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

20 Authors Share Their Biggest Surprise in the Writing Process

20 Authors Share Their Biggest Surprises in the Writing Process

Experienced writers know to expect the unexpected. Here are surprises in the writing process from 20 authors, including Amanda Jayatissa, Paul Neilan, Kristin Hannah, and Robert Jones, Jr.