Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature

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How to Make Memories into Memoirs, Ideas into Essays, and Life into Literature

From drawing a map of a remembered neighborhood to signing a form releasing yourself to take risks in your work, Roorbach offers innovative techniques that will trigger ideas for all writers.

Writing Life Stories is a classic text that appears on countless creative nonfiction and composition syllabi the world over. This updated 10th anniversary edition gives you the same friendly instruction and stimulating exercises along with updated information on current memoir writing trends, ethics, internet research, and even marketing ideas. You'll discover how to turn your untold life stories into vivid personal essays and riveting memoirs by learning to open up memory, access emotions, shape scenes from experience, develop characters, and research supporting details.

This guide will teach you to see your life more clearly and show you why real stories are often the best ones.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books; Second Edition edition (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582975272
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582975276
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

Customer Reviews

A Must-have Resource for Creative Nonfiction Writers

9 people found this helpful.
 on December 10, 2015
By Charity Singleton Craig
I used this book as one of the texts in an essay workshop I taught this fall. In my opinion, this is one of the best handbooks for creative nonfiction a writer could have. It’s filled with instruction and exercises, along with stories and writing samples from the author’s long career as a writer and teacher. My copy is thoroughly highlighted — it might have been easier to highlight the few passages I didn’t want to remember — and I will use the book again in my own writing life and to help others.

Pick This Book UP

5 people found this helpful.
 on January 21, 2016
By Janet Glaser
Writing Life Stores: How to Make Memories into Memoirs, Ideas into Essays, and Life into Literature by Bill Roorbach is eye-opening, thought-provoking, and full of wisdom for burgeoning writers, as well as experienced authors. His literary grade language and insight into what writing really is made me appreciate my choice to become a writer. This book is an inspiring read.

Thanks to Bill, I’m back on the horse

2 people found this helpful.
 on November 15, 2016
By V. Mickey
This book was assigned for a non-credit writing class I was taking. It’s a fabulous resource, with enough exercises to keep me writing until I can no longer recognize words. Engaging to read, and rich with practical guidance, it serves to inspire and enable writers at all levels. Our class had very accomplished writers and those who were just beginning, but the outcomes were all improved by working through several chapters of this book in the 8-week course. I’ve not written for other readers for years. It’s good to get back on the horse with this book.

The best writing book on the shelf.

2 people found this helpful.
 on June 21, 2016
By writer
Over and over and over again, I have come back to this book. There are dozens of others on my shelves and in my Kindle, but this is the one that has done the most for me as a writer – both in terms of inspiration and craft. Roorbach’s approach is friendly and warm and inviting, but not in the least bit condescending. He’s your partner on the path, your coach, your wonderful professor with the patches on the elbows of his tweed jacket, even though I somehow doubt he even owns a tweed jacket.

Best Book on Writing

3 people found this helpful.
 on June 28, 2016
By Honest Feedback
Fantastic Book! This is the best book on writing that I have ever read. I have been a professional writer for many years, and I learned a lot from this book. Thanks Bill, for a real gem.

Writing Life Stories

6 people found this helpful.
 on January 30, 2014
By Johnazon
Bill Roorbach came in our class and had us submit some writing to his blog. This book has some really cool exercises. My favorite, so far, (I haven’t finished going through and doing all of them!) is the memory mapping. Doing that exercise lead to some amazing recollections, not to mention dreams of past life events melded into the now. Enjoy using this book for what ever class or writing mission one may have to accomplish.

life story

9 people found this helpful.
 on December 22, 2012
By Anna
bought this book to help me jump start writing my childhood memories. the essays are easy to follow and understand. if you’re looking for something basic this is it. if you’re looking for something super profound then look somewhere else. overall it’s a great book and I have enjoyed it.

Great advices for future writers

2 people found this helpful.
 on May 29, 2016
By Annie Brickman
Interesting to read and very helpful. Great advices for future writers, it really pushes you to be personal, which is essential if you want to be a non fictional writer.

Where Have You Been All My Life?

4 people found this helpful.
 on June 4, 2014
By Ellen Berman
Awesome book on memoir. I’d put it on my top ten list. And Roorbach is such an excellent writer, with style and grace and honesty and he also knows how to tell a good story. Some of his exercises I chose to ignore, however, but the rest of the book is so meaty that is okay. A keeper in my library of books on the subject!

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