Memoir Assignment

The object of this assignment is to further your public writing abilities by composing a 750-1500 word memoir. A memoir can be defined as a record of events written by a person having intimate knowledge of them and based on personal observation. Your job is to use the tools and techniques described in class to transform your personal experiences into literature to be read and shared by others.

A memoir draws on selected anecdotes from your life to reveal a truth or insight that resonates with others. After reading your memoir, I should be able to answer one or both of the following questions:

    How did this experience cause you to see yourself differently?
    How did this experience cause you to see the world differently?

Remember that this memoir is not your life story (too long!) or a factual report of events (too dull!). Rather, this should read like compelling fiction. Please review information from Module 3 and Module 4 for genre information and conventions. A few of the more important genre conventions are:

    A first-person narrator who is undoubtedly the author
    A clear sense of voice that conveys the author’s personality and stays consistent throughout the piece
    Storytelling techniques such as a developed conflict, dialogue, and characterization are emphasized and used to craft the narrative
    Author makes careful choices about when to set the scene and when to summarize (showing vs. telling)
    Descriptive language is used to immerse the reader and describe the author’s personal experiences in a vivid, colorful, memorable way

Also remember that your writing needs to be polished and error-free, and that it should be formatted in MLA. The UWF Writing LabLinks to an external site. can help you achieve both of these goals (and, remember, you get 10 points of extra credit just for participating in an online paper reading! Win/win!).

Frequently Asked Questions

How will you grade this assignment?

There is a detailed grading rubric at the bottom of this assignment sheet.

Does it matter what I write about?

You’re welcome to write about any part of your life. In fact, what you write about is not nearly as important as the craft involved.

Can I write about something that’s illegal? Can I curse?

Yes and yes. We’re all adults here. I do recommend that you avoid stuffing your memoir with scandalous material simply for shock value, however. Good writers know better than to use sex and violence gratuitously.

What’s the tone here? Should this be sad, funny, or uplifting?

Any or all of the above! Memoirs are as diverse as the people who write them. Please see the examples below to get a feel for the variety of this genre.

Do I have to cite sources?

Probably not. This is a story about your own knowledge and experiences. You generally wouldn’t quote outside sources for your retelling of events. However, if you do choose to pull in an inspirational quote or a statistic or something like that, then you will need to cite it.


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