A-Z Challenge: N is for…

Narrative Voice

Memoir Writing

This post is one of 26 I am writing for the A-Z Challenge on the subject of writing a memoir. I’m not an expert in writing memoirs, but I’m exploring the topic with thoughts about writing one, and am happy to share the fruits of my exploration.


There’s no doubt that the narrator of my memoir is me and the narrator of your memoir is you and the… you get the idea.

The question is: what does the narrative sound like? What voice should you use to describe and connect scenes?

The answer, I discovered from this thought-provoking article, is that memoirs usually have two voices. Here they are called the Voice of Innocence and the Voice of Experience.


The Voice of Innocence is the point of view of the child (or teenager or younger adult) who experienced the scene. It can include your feelings at the time the scene took place.

The Voice of Experience is you, now, looking back on the same scene.

Both voices have something to offer the reader. Generally, without one of them, the memoir would not be complete.

The Voice of Experience can pop up anywhere in the narrative, so you can be flexible about your use of the two voices. I think this is the hardest point for me. I try to be over-organised. I would tend to describe each scene with the Voice of Innocence and then add a comment in the Voice of Experience. While such an approach would be suitable for a software development kit (don’t worry about the name – it comes from my technical writing background), it would be far too rigid and non-creative for a memoir.

That’s enough from me. When you begin to ramble, you should know it’s time to stop. Do you want to voice any opinions about voice?

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