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Craft Book Spotlight: Having the Last Say

Can't imagine writing a full-length memoir? This handbook aims to help beginning writers tell their life story in less than 1,000 words.

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Having the Last Say by Alan Gelb features a crisp white cover, bold text, with a small photo of a typewriter at the bottom.
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Interested in telling your life story, but intimidated at the towering length of a memoir?

There’s still a way for aging writers to have “one last say,” argues Alan Gelb in Having the Last Say: Capturing Your Legacy in One Small Story

Aimed at beginner or brand-new writers, the book coaches readers through the process of writing one’s life story in a 500- to 1000-word personal essay that can be shared with family and friends or read aloud at a memorial.

Each chapter covers a certain technical aspect of writing (“Finding Your Topic,” “Point of View,” “The First Draft”) and is then followed by a real-life “Last Say” that illustrates the skill at work. The book is Gelb’s second writing guide; previously, he wrote Conquering the College Admissions Essay in 10 Steps

“With humor, compassion, and an expert’s understanding of the difficulties inherent in putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys), writing coach Alan Gelb offers a step-by-step guide to all of us who yearn to examine our lives, validate our unique individuality, and create a valuable and touching slice of family history to bequeath to our offspring,” praises author Katherine Ketcham. “He gently and skillfully guides readers to find a topic and point of view, produce a first draft, and move through the stages of revising and polishing to the finished life story – a ‘gift’ to oneself and to others.”


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