In these instances, to fix the tone, you have to fix the way you think about a given subject. You have to back off, calm down, see other points of view, maybe even take some responsibility for whatever happened. When writing about such delicate subjects, you must not let a negative tone take over by ascribing motives to people: You just tell what they did, and let the reader read motive into it. You must write with forgiveness, understanding and humor. In some ways, this can be a payoff to examining your tone as you write: You change the writing, and the writing changes you. But if you find this is not possible with your subject, don’t be afraid to scrap a project that you discover has inherent problems with tone. You’ll be a better writer for it.
I write memoirs because I have a passionate desire to be of even the tiniest bit of help. I like to write about the process of healing, of developing, of growing up, of becoming who we were born to be instead of who we always agreed to be. It’s sort of a missionary thing, to describe one person’s interior, and to say we’re probably raised not to think this or say it, but actually all of us feel it and have gone through it, and we all struggle with it. I feel like it’s a gift I have to offer to people, to say, “This is what it’s like for me, who you seem to like or trust. We’re all like this. We’re all ruined. We’re all loved. We all feel like victims, we all feel better than.”