I am honoured to be part of the WOW! Women of Writing Blog Tour for Barbara Barth’s book A Wingman for Christmas.
Today Barbara is visiting my blog to share her thoughts on the difference between writing fiction and memoir
The Difference Between Writing Fiction and Memoir
Some days I tell myself I never want to write about me again. My first book was my widow memoir in 2010, a quirky recount of my first year on my own. A healing experience for me that resonated with others who had suffered a loss. A follow up memoir covering ten years later revealed what I’d been up to with my new life. It’s not that I had a lot of hotness to write about, but I wanted to capture all the craziness of those years for me and anyone who might still be interested in my story.
When I wrote my first novel, Danger in Her Words, I realized while it was fiction, a lot of my writing and dating experiences formed the backbone of the story. A bit of a naughty thriller (tame compared to some I’ve read) although more exciting than my real life. And I’m happy to say no one tried to murder me (teaser). That was pure fiction.
I seem to have a theme be it memoir or fiction. Widows, dogs, old houses, and antiques. I love characters that are older but still in the game. It’s what I know and what I love to write about.
My Christmas novella is pure fiction, but the character of Mama is a made-up version of my mother who I lost in 2016. Her love of exotic birds and other creatures is there, as well as her tell-it-like-it-is attitude. The Victorian house is an exact replica of the 1906 cottage I lived in for three years. There’s a sweet picture of that cottage incorporated on the cover. A few changes from my usual go-to themes, Cheryl is divorced and there are no dogs!
The difference comes in the research for me. With memoir, I know what I’ve done and so do most of my friends. The details of my life etched in my head and heart. I don’t have to fact check anything. I’ve lived it.
Writing fiction is so much harder. My made-up world is in my head, but the details are not. Google becomes my best friend as I fact check everything for accuracy. It is exhausting for me. After a few hours I stop and take a nap with the dogs to get my energy back. Well, I’d take a nap with the dogs for any reason.
That said, I’m loving the process. The surprise about writing fiction to me is discovering my characters have a different plan than I do and take off in their own direction. I pretty much know the start and finish, but the chapters in between write themselves. Cliché perhaps, but true. At least for me.
Will I write memoir again? Time will tell. Meanwhile I’ve left a fictional character sitting in the Waffle House in St. Augustine, Florida since 2017. I think it’s time to tell her story.
Thank you Barbara for sharing your post on the differences between writing memoir and fiction.
Be sure to visit all the stops along the blog tour: