By Lisa Lepki
Sit down with a piece of paper and draw out a diagram of your life. It will help you pick out the pivotal moments. If you were writing an autobiography, you would need to write about the entirety of your life, but a memoir is different. A memoir is about capturing a moment that mattered. When did you meet the person who most influenced your life? Why was a certain year such a difficult one? How did you overcome the problems you faced? How did it change you? When you make a timeline of your life, certain moments will emerge as being transformative. That is where you should begin.
2. Think about who you are writing for
There are hundreds of reasons why you might like to write a memoir. Maybe you learned some things along the way that might help others. Maybe you want to document an ethnic or cultural background for your children. Maybe you want to try and make sense of the decisions that you made along the way. Think about who you want to read the memoir, what you want them to know and why you think it should matter to them. See More . . .
There are lots of plot structures out there. The 3-act structure, the brilliant Blake-Snyder Beat Sheet, and on and on. My current favorite is a four-act story structure from Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering, a book I highly recommend. Though when it comes to the finale, I prefer Blake-Snyder’s five-point finale described in his book Save the Cat (also fabulous for writers). Here’s an analysis of a four-act structure of Dead Until Dark, the first Sookie Stackhouse southern vampire novel, by Charlaine Harris.
Act 1: The first act sets the stakes for the hero (or heroine) and layers in the foreshadowing.
– Opening scene and hook. With the catalyst in the first scene, the action starts right away. As an example of this in a paranormal mystery, the first scene is where the hero finds the corpse. Or in Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, a vampire walks into a bar… See More . . .