Why Your First Novel Is Probably A Memior

A Paperback Writer Article by: Stella Brians

Many first time writers are encouraged to write what they know, and it is such excellent advice. As a young person especially, the early experiences that made you who you are are still fresh in your memory and state of being. So are the imprints of where you came from. Whether or not you love your native state or country, it is so much a part of you.

It took me years to realize this.

In 2014, I moved to Kentucky to be with my significant other and I’m still in culture shock. I miss the cool New England weather, all the rainy days, how we call sub sandwiches “grinders.” Many of the people of Kentucky have been very nice to me, but nothing will change my New England ways or the imprint it has left in my psyche.

So I started writing my debut novel, The Paperback Writer of Central Park–about a woman (who is essentially based on myself)–living in New York City hostels. She loves to write, some would say addicted. She craves the solitude that NYC provides, the stimulating atmosphere, and the lone wolf lifestyle. I was inspired by a time in my own life when I took a train from New Haven to New York City and stayed in hostels. So, Elizabeth Stutton was created from the fresh New England air, my experiences, and imagination. I created a lonely young woman who loved Central Park and writing more than anything else in the world and is completely happy with the counter culture in which she lives.

Authors and people with many years of experience will advise you to not write yourself into the story, not to indulge. I think that it is important and necessary to share your experiences as a human with others. You have a story to tell, and someone out there will undoubtedly connect with it. They will think-“Hey, I feel this way too. I’m glad I’m not alone. I really wish I could connect with this author.”

It’s important for is to tell our stories, to validate feelings and experiences. We  do need to make the story interesting and compelling–that is our responsibility to the reader. Unless you are writing a book that is strictly a memior, your story is probably fiction heavily inspired by your life. Perhaps you grew up with alcoholic parents and had to make your own way for yourself at an early age. Maybe you were presented with responsibilities that challenged you and allowed you to grow us a person, or that an exciting event allowed you to live the life you always wanted to. Whatever it may be from your own life that inspires you-write about it. It is so important to share with others, because when you share with other people you delight and help them.

Let’s continue our novel journey, together.


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