What Is A Memoir Essay?

A memoir essay is a shorter version of a memoir and usually includes 2000-10000 words. A memoir essay is typically a first-person narrative that draws from the author’s life.

What Is A Memoir Essay

Thus, by definition, a memoir essay is a factual story. While it is similar to other forms of creative nonfiction, it also utilizes numerous techniques and devices that are associated with writing fiction.

A memoir essay is not intended to be your life story. It is also highly unlikely to be chronological and you may not even wish to centralize yourself as the protagonist.

However, it may place focus on the author’s relationship to numerous loved ones and family members while remaining narrower in scope when compared to full-length memoirs.

The greatest memoir essays will focus on a specific memory or relationship. They often flashback to a specified life experience. Similarly to a novel or a short story, a good essay is carefully constructed in order to have the greatest literary effect.  

Four Tips For Writing A Memoir Essay

There is no wrong subject to choose for a memoir essay. This is because what makes a memoir great is the writing style that you use and the meaning that you have drawn from past experiences.

A brilliant memoir essay may focus on a specific memory during your childhood or on an account of a very specific day of your life that was incredibly significant.

It could also be about a college experience or something lighthearted. It does not necessarily have to be emotionally impactful. However, the best memoir essays will always have a message.

Here are some key tips to bear in mind when writing the first draft of any memoir essay:

1) You should pay close attention to specific memories that keep appearing in your mind’s eye. Despite the fact that these memories may not seem significant, the fact that you have retained them may indicate that there is a brilliant story within them.

2) You should also feel free to play with the literary structure of your piece. While memoir essays need to be true, you do not have to write things in the specific order and manner that they occurred. 

3) You should also re-read some short stories in order to assess how these author’s use time, structure, and perspective to create dramatic impact in the right places. The manipulation of time is key when writing shorter stories and memoirs. 

4) The inclusion of specific imagery will also help to paint the picture. You should remember that memory is always tied to the five senses.

Thus, the more that you can recall this memory on a sensory level, the more expressive your writing will become. 

When you are starting your memoir, you should start with a memory that can be grounded in a specific sensory observation. This is because the senses provide a powerful entrance into memory.

Whether you are beginning with the smell of your family’s living room, or the taste of a specific hotpot, you will easily be able to conjure the imagery surrounding the moment once you have become immersed within it. 

5) Capture the multifaceted nature of the memory. You should remember that while you are the narrator of your own story, you do not always have to be the hero or the protagonist of it.

Memoirs that are written to stroke your own ego do not translate well. The best memoirs explore memories and perceptions without the need for ego-interference.

You should reflect on the distance and time between you and your younger self, reflecting on any changes that you have made within yourself since the memory occurred.

The resulting tension and contrast in your attitudes will help to pull the reader further into the story.

What Makes A Good Memoir Essay?

A brilliant memoir essay can focus on a specific memory from your childhood or it can account for an important day in your life that was notably consequential.

What Is A Memoir Essay

What Is The Difference Between A Personal Essay And A Memoir?

A personal essay can be about any issue. However, a memoir will focus on past events and memories. Memoirs can take a similar form to a personal essay, except that they tend to place focus on significant or life-changing events.

In contrast, a personal essay is usually light-hearted and reflects on events that are currently occurring in your life. 

Can You Write More Than One Memoir?

The list of memories that you can explore within a memoir is endless. There are numerous methods of telling these real-life stories, and memoirs are just one of the options that are available to utilize.

A personal essay, immersion essay, and autobiography are also viable options for factual literary storytelling.

How Do You End A Memoir?

The ending of a memoir should wrap up the story and tie up any loose ends in the same way that a novel is concluded. You may wish to manipulate time in order to conclude your story appropriately. 


To conclude, a memoir essay utilizes the structure of longer forms of non-fiction while incorporating the literary elements of fiction.

Memoir essays are condensed versions of longer memoirs and they tend to focus on a specific life-changing event or childhood memory.

However, they can also be lighthearted in content, despite the fact that they are mostly focused on significant events.

It is important to start your memoir essay by focusing on a sensory observation, as this will enable you to dive deeper into the memory and become more descriptive by proxy.

Therefore, focusing on a memory that naturally evokes your five senses is probably the best place to start when writing a memoir essay, as you will naturally be more descriptive in your output.

Alan Reiner

Alan Reiner

Hi, my name is Alan Reiner and I have been in the writing industry for almost seven years. I write articles that can span from 200 words all the way to 20,000 words every single day. How do I do it? With a lot of determination. All my way through school and college, I hated long-form assignments. I could never get into the groove of working on one piece for an extended period of time. My pieces were always late because I didn’t have the motivation to type them, let alone edit them.