© 2013 Evan Marshall & Martha Jewett. All rights reserved.
by Martha Jewett & Evan Marshall
Here at The Marshall Plan®, we’ve been wondering for a while whether our fiction-writing
techniques could be of use to aspiring memoir writers.
The Marshall Plan® Modes are fiction-writing techniques introduced in Evan’s book, The Marshall
Plan® for Novel Writing, the classic reference which has sold over 50,000 copies and is now
available as software. The Marshall Plan® system has been used by novelists all over the world to
complete and publish their novels.
How do memoir writers use these fiction-writing techniques? To find out, we reread favorite
memoirs. We discovered new memoir writers, such as Frank Bruni. We got out of our comfort zone
(we’re not big sports people) and loved Open by Andre Agassi. We picked the cream of the crop:
New York Times bestsellers, perennial top sellers on the backlist, high-impact favorites. And we just
barely skimmed the surface of all the well-written memoirs out there today. Most interesting was the
three-century span. We examined memoirs published over the last 300 years: contemporary
memoirs, mid-20th-century memoirs, and even a famous 19th-century memoir.
We found what we thought we were going to find, as it became obvious that memoirs use the same
fiction-writing techniques novelists do—and for the same basic reason: to tell a better story.
Specifically, these techniques are used for focused descriptions, realistic action, an engaging feel,
fast pacing, and dramatic conflict. The best memoir writers use these techniques 24/7. They live,
breath, eat, and sleep novel-writing techniques.
But could we get specific enough to give actionable advice for aspiring memoir writers?
Yes, with detailed description each technique and examples of it in action.
For each of the Marshall Plan® Modes used in memoir to achieve a specific story-telling goal, we
give lots of examples:
Action Mode—For Realism
Background Mode—For Clarity
Description Mode—For Focus
Dialogue Mode—For Conflict
Feelings/Thoughts Mode—For Emotional Depth
Summary Mode—For Momentum
Viewpoint Writing Mode—For Readers’ Empathy
We define and describe each Mode, with examples from bestselling memoirs.
We put all of this together in our new e-book, How To Bring Your Memoir To Life: 53 Fiction-
Writing Techniques from The Marshall Plan®. We’re extremely proud of the result.
Let us know what you think.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Martha and Evan