How to Turn Your Memoir into a Short Story

Take your reader on a memorable journey utilizing engaging fictional techniques and deeper points of view.

Juneta Key
The Ninja Writers Pub
5 min readOct 20, 2020


Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

I wrote my first short story in 2004 when I wrote about the impact my mother’s death had on me. It was a memoir short story.

A short story is exactly what it sounds like — a short story. It can be fiction shorts or nonfiction shorts. Publications will specify types of shorts they will accept.

In nonfiction, the difference is the memoir short story is told in story form like a fictional story, not essay format, despite being based on real life. When told this way it creates an immersive experience for the reader that keeps them turning the page.

The story takes the reader on a journey, allowing them to experience the journey as well as deepen the emotional connection with the story and author. The reader lives it with the storyteller.

Word counts for short stories range from 500 to 20,000 words. The most common lengths are 500, 1000, 3000, 5000, 7000 to 10,000 words. You should always read the submission guidelines of any publication where you want to submit your story.

You can fictionalize your memoir to protect people involved, at which time it becomes a fictionalized story based upon a true story.

A memoir short story I wrote about the loss of my mother:

Story format in memoir can be seen in novels and movies.

You see this memoir or biographical type of story format often in movies based on books, such as Where The Red Fern Grows, based loosely on the childhood of Woodrow Wilson Rawls, and A River Runs Through It, based on the 1976 semi-autobiographical novel by Norman Maclean.

Granted, these are novel-length stories; however, the fictional format was followed to convey a deeper experience of the story, which translates well visually and produces…