Just because it happened, doesn’t make it interesting, Marion Roach Smith bluntly observes in this short book on writing memoir. What makes it interesting? Roach Smith’s answer to this question sets her book apart from other textbooks on this topic. She advocates focusing on a universal theme, such as mercy, revenge, or love. Your story should be an illustration of that theme. Cut out everything that doesn’t fall under the umbrella of that theme. Your goal is to use a personal experience to speak to the universal. When your story is about the human condition, it becomes interesting.
Marion Roach Smith, The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2011), 32.