If you think your memoir doesn’t need a plot, you’re making a big mistake.

Terena Scott

Memoir is a story about someone’s life, right? Sure, if you want it to be boring.

A good memoir is not just a series of events shared chronologically. It is a tale with heroes, villains, conflict, subtext, and a great plot to keep the pages turning. Writing events down chronologically might be fine for a history book or genealogy, but if you want to engage your readers, you need to think about action. One event in a life has a direct impact on the next event. Everything you do effects the people around you and how your life develops.

A scene is action. Plot is a series of actions. When you outline your memoir, think about the actions that shaped your life and made you who you are.

Perhaps you were born in Cleveland, then you moved to LA when you were 10. Those are facts, and you might want…

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10 Comments

  1. I don’t write memoirs, but some of the ones that you mentioned in your About page are books I’ve loved. They don’t read like chronological narratives, but like crafted stories. To memoir writers this is probably obvious, but as a reader, I never thought about it. Thanks for the interesting post.

    1. I didn’t realize it either until a few years ago when I read an article about memoirs and they mentioned I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. (I had always known that it was based on Maya Angelou’s real life.) That’s when I realized that the books I enjoyed reading the most were actually memoirs. Now as you can see, I’m really into memoirs. Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and comment.

  2. Great advice.
    Thank you.
    Best wishes
    Opher.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting on my blog. Best wishes to you too.

    2. 19 books! Impressive! I like that you write for yourself and not to impress anyone else. Take care.

  3. […] via If you think your memoir doesn’t need a plot, you’re making a big mistake. | Memoir Notes. […]

  4. Yes! I tell my writing students this all the time. And a central Theme too!

    1. Yes. These elements are very important if writing for publication.

  5. […] via If you think your memoir doesn’t need a plot, you’re making a big mistake. | Memoir Notes. […]

  6. […] via If you think your memoir doesn’t need a plot, you’re making a big mistake. | Memoir Notes. […]

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