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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2012
I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to books. Anything that first insults my intelligence and then proceeds to teach me about something is not likely to end up on my bookshelf.

That said, I received a copy of this book to review, and who hasn't dreamed of writing a memoir or some type? I know I have, so I decided to see what it had to say.

What I found was a book that is great in helping you organize your ideas, pointing out what is important, what to leave out, and of course what to put in your story! It had pointers for how to handle dialogue. I know I enjoy well-written dialogue, but if it's not well written, I tend to skip over it. This is true not only for memoirs but for any book I read! There were suggestions on how to recreate a conversation that may have happened decades ago.

Of course there is basic writing tips such as plot and structure, as well as information on self-publishing, and even legal issues that can arise. (Thinking of writing a tell-all about your family? Might want to think again if they are still alive because it could be a lawsuit waiting to happen, but this book addresses the stickier issues you may not have considered.)

The quick prompts would be great for those who have less of an idea where they are going with their book. With the book I would like to write someday, I have it somewhat structured in my mind and they weren't as helpful to me. I did, however, find myself taking notes and jotting things down as they came to mind that I hope to add to my manuscript.

Overall, this is an excellent book and one I would recommend to anyone who is thinking of writing a memoir, even if it is just to give to your grandchildren!

FTC disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. In no way did that influence my opinion of the book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2012
When I recently began thinking about writing my own life story, I thought certainly it would be a relatively straight forward project. Why not? I had all the credentials and experience to accomplish my mission. I had a solid liberal arts and journalism school education from a good public university and more than 25 years of experience working in the journalism profession during which I have published hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles covering a wide range of subjects.

But as I discovered from Victoria Castello's guide, writing a memoir is a different - and much more complex - process than writing news stories and magazine features. In a news or feature article, you tend to answer the questions: What is this and what about it? When writing a memoir, the writer goes a step further and answers a third question: So what? To answer this third question, and make your writing come alive, Castello explains that a memoirist has to incorporate a host of literary techniques into the narrative, such as voice, plot, character development, dialogue, scenes, and much more.

Castello does an admirable job of explaining these terms and how to incorporate them into your memoir. Her book has helped me make the transition from the short news story to book-length narrative through this very easy-to-follow guide that makes you think about both the big picture and the details. The book not only covers the writing process, but also delves into legal issues and how to get your memoir published. I recommend this book for anyone who is thinking about, or is in the process of, telling his or her own life story through a memoir or similar writing vehicle, regardless of whether you're a beginner or veteran journalist.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2012
Costello's guide to writing a memoir is an extremely well crafted, specific, nuts-and-bolts description of the elements required not only for a memoir but for most kinds of novels as well. It provides practical advice on how to approach such a project, and how to get through it, and how to have it reviewed in manuscript form by one's peers. And, beyond that, how to get it into print. Most such guides tend to be vague about important steps in the process. This one is comprehensively detailed. Even if you don't plan to write a memoir, you'll find it fascinating if you like to write.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2012
This book was extremely helpful in guiding me to the completion of my first memoir genre book. The author's seasoned, realistic approach to writing a memoir is second to none. Highly recommend it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2012
This book is a useful guide for someone wanting to write a memoir or an autobiography. It's not so much an idiot's guide but a thorough investigation of how to write either of these books or family stories. Lots of examples and many great ideas on how to start writing. Well worth buying.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2013
The title made it appear generic. It was anything, but. The author had done her homework. it is a comprehensive treatment of the genre. i have several hundred books on writing in my library. Victoria's book is one of ten that i keep on my desk for immediate review. It's an invaluable resource.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2013
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to begin to try and start writing a memoir. It breaks it down in more basic terms for the person who hasn't a clue where to start. I needed to go back to pages many times as a reference. The price was reasonable.
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on February 17, 2014
First book to buy if you are thinking of writing your memoir or just some stories for you kids. How to start, gather thoughts, layout design and just write. Then check the book for sentence structure.
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on April 9, 2013
chose this rating because the book was delivered fast and on time and in great condition, also the book was a good read, step by step guide to writing a memoir very informational.
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Like all the books in the Complete Idiots series this is well researched and well written. The information is good and will help a novice writer.
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