Writing tips from Dawn Thurston, author of "Breathe Life Into Your Life Story":

There's a huge difference between merely recording the facts of your life and shaping those facts into a compelling narrative.

If you worry too much about the quality of your writing in the beginning stages, you'll cripple your creativity from the get-go.

The dialogue in your scenes should sound like natural speech, but stripped of the nonessential blathering that fills most conversations.

Steer away from vague, general descriptions. Be specific, choosing words that identify exactly what you mean.

Write with your nose, your ears and your fingers, not just with your eyes.

Conflict is a key ingredient in any good story, and children are a fertile source of conflict.

Future generations will find your story more compelling if they can link it with something they have read in history books or studied in school.

Write stories about the things that were meaningful in your life. These do not need to be earth-shaking events.