Some writers just shoot from the hip and start writing from scratch when they want to offer the world a memoir. Most writers, however, prefer to create an outline of what they intend to write before they actually start writing. These tips for writing a memoir outline will help you to gather your thoughts, keep your writing flexible, and hopefully discover new thoughts that can be included within your narrative.
#1. Start with the premise of your memoir.
This is the basic idea for your memoir. It needs to be as specific as possible. Think about the situation that you want to discuss. What happened to you? How did you change because of that experience?
Your objective in this moment is also important to consider. What did you want during that period of time? What choices did you need to make?There may also be challenging decisions you had to make. Conflicts that occurred may have altered your initial plans or reactions in that moment. Include them as well.
Once you’ve jotted down all of this information, create a thesis statement about your memoir. This is the key point you’ll keep referring to as you write your memoir.
#2. Sketch out your ideas.
Once you have your premise sorted out, then you’re ready to begin including some ideas from your memories that will help to support it. Write down a complete list of everything that you can remember from those moments in time you want to discuss. Nothing here is unimportant.
Write down what a table felt like. Or what your thoughts were the first time you held someone’s hand. If an idea raises questions, then highlight it and explore that concept more. If an idea seems out of place, then cross it out. This will help you be able to identify holes in your story arc before you begin writing and that can save you a lot of time.
#3. Become a journalist.
Many memoirs include additional characters that help to show the lessons that were learned in the key moments of a life. To bring a memoir to life, the perspectives of these people must be included within your narrative. The easiest way to include these details is to interview the people who are going to be included in your memoir.
This isn’t always an easy process to complete, especially if the individual involved had a negative impact. You should never do something that makes you uncomfortable. If you just don’t want to talk with someone, see if you can have a trusted friend or family member assume that character’s role and interview them instead. It won’t be as authentic, but it will still give you an idea of what to include.
#4. Explore each setting you wish to include.
The moments of a life take place in certain settings. It might be in your home. It could be at the Grand Canyon. Whatever the place may be, it is important to explore the setting for your memoir outline so it can contribute to the narrative that you’re offering. This allows the reader to place themselves into that specific moment in time with greater ease.
As you explore your settings, you’ll also want to see if there are certain areas that can be reduced or eliminated in this process. You may have traveled all over Paris, but if the key moments of the memoir happened at the Eiffel Tower, then it makes sense to eliminate all of the other settings which don’t actually lead up to that key moment.
#5. Now you need to complete your outline.
This is where the plotting process begins. Start putting in the scenes and stories into an order that makes sense. Make sure you having a meaningful introduction and a good conclusion that wraps up the premise of your story for the reader.
You can be as comprehensive as you want to be in this step. A single sentence which dictates what each chapter or scene will do is good enough. You may wish to add even more details to the outline to begin giving your memoir some life.
Once you’ve finished your outline for the entire memoir, then you must condense it so that you have the most pertinent points readily available. Many outlines, when having their details fleshed out, will often include rambling thoughts and tangents that really won’t have a place in your narrative. These are the things you’ll want to eliminate.
Then all you need to do is put your memoir outline into action. Start writing your memoir based on your final outline until you finish your narrative.
Outlines might be loved and hated by writers, but they can be extremely useful for a memoir. Use these tips to develop your outline and you may just find it to be a lot easier to get your thoughts organized into a meaningful story.