What Are Good Memoir Themes?

memoir themesMany people don’t consider that there should be memoir themes. Memoirs are just life stories, right? But just like with any story, your memoir should have a message, an overall theme. Remember, you’re not publishing your diary or a shopping list of memories. Your memoir needs to follow the same rules as any book, so you must be able to tie the threads of your tapestry together with a compelling theme.

So, what are some good themes for a memoir? Here are a few examples to consider:

Persistence always wins in the end. If you’ve lived a hard life, one with lots of obstacles to overcome, this can be a great theme if you’ve triumphed. However, if you’re still amid the battle and really don’t have anything positive to share, or wish to complain to your reader, it won’t make for a good book. I mean, would you want to read a book like that?

Continual courage can lead to victory. We have all experienced battles where the odds seemed against us. It’s what you do at those moments that count and can make for a good story. If your life is filled with examples of courage and integrity, that would be a great theme.

Family is important. This is a simple theme, but a good one. In this day and age, where the media reports that most marriages fail and children are growing up without the support and love of their parents, a good memoir showing the beautiful bond of family is important. Simply recording your family history for future generations is also a great concept!

Ethical people lead better lives. If your story highlights times when you stood up and did the right thing, even when it was difficult for you, your story can set an example for others. It isn’t always easy to keep your integrity, especially when peers are there pressuring you to do the opposite. Writing a book that shows how you succeeded by being ethical can help others make similar choices in their own lives. Perhaps someone will pick up your book when they’re at an important crossroad in their life and just need a gentle nudge to make the right decision.

Crime doesn’t pay. I actually receive a number of requests from former inmates who are eager to share their stories of reform. The ones who are passionate about this subject, who regularly go out and speak to young adults can do well with a complementary memoir. It might be rough in places and won’t always be happy-go-lucky, but the lessons learned by someone who has traveled the wrong path can be helpful to others. This theme works best if the author is presently leading a successful and ethical life.

There are many more good and valid themes to choose from. Really, you just need to look at the effect your story could have on others. If it uplifts and inspires them, go for it! Write your book! However, if you think that your story will depress people, make them less enthusiastic about life in any way, well, perhaps now isn’t quite the time to pen your memoir.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

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Laura Sherman (96 Posts)

Laura Sherman, a.k.a. “Laura the Friendly Ghostwriter,” is a professional ghostwriter and author. She enjoys writing fiction and nonfiction and is happiest when juggling multiple projects. She recently authored “Chess Is Child’s Play” to introduce the next generation to the game of kings and queens. As a parent of three, and one of the top 50 women chess players in the United States, Laura wrote this book to teach any parent to teach any child, of any age, to play chess.