How To Write A Memoir Outline

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If you are planning to write a memoir, you would want your readers to benefit from it – a strong takeaway that captivates your audience and leaves them begging for more and so if you are wondering how to write an outline for a memoir?

An excellent memoir will make you relate to the author and their live, the struggle they mentioned will become more tangible to you, and you will come to know what they are successful at, and what they wonder about.

This can be achieved when you planned a great outline for your memoir beforehand.

How To Outline Your Memoir

Whether you are writing a memoir essay, a short memoir, or writing for someone, you can follow these simple steps to write an outline for your memoir to make sure your memoir is enjoyable and worth reading moreover creating a memoir outline will help you organize your memoir and tell your story in the most effective way.

  1. Finalized your conclusion and the title.
  2. Layout the events you want to cover.
  3. Craft your story arc.
  4. Center the narrative around you.
  5. Settle on a story arc with structured scenes.

Let’s talk in detail about how to write a book outline for a memoir.

#1. Finalized Your Conclusion And The Title.

This might look insane to you at first because you haven’t start writing your memoir yet and still  you have to finalized the conclusion of your story first? That means following what seems to be the last and then start working!

It means you must be able to draw out the conclusion of your memoir even before you start writing. If you are not able to make a summary or takeaway from the memoir you are planning to write, it will not have much impact on our readers.

Well, after writing more than 10 years now (for editorials, magazine, books), I began to realized that having a conclusion and title well before crafting the events helps to create my stories in a more convincing way. It may not be the final one, nevertheless, you will begin to draw a clear conclusion on what you want to say.

Let me explain it to you.

Let’s suppose you’ve created a memoir and now you have to finalized on your conclusion, as you ponder on what kind of conclusion you want to make or what your readers will gain from your story, you realized, there is not much of a strong point or takeaway!

Let’s suppose again, you finalized your conclusion, you created a title for your memoir. When you began to craft your story, you will structure it in a way that will logically lead them to that point. Having a strong conclusion and takeaway is what you ultimately want to impart to your reader.

In fact, I always finalized on the Title and Conclusion first well before I lay out the events for my writings. This way, I know what part of events I have to include and what parts are to be excluded. This is a time saver as you are able to choose your experiences selectively. It helps me in creating my memoir outline more effectively.

You can change the title later on, if you feel another one would fit more and have more impact on what you want to say! Nonetheless, I found that the original title I came up with in the first place is more suitable in most cases as I have outlined my writings in such a way that it will give a strong standpoint to what I wanted to say!

Even if this might sound a little odd, I urge you to try it out once and I can guarantee that you will never look back again.

Note: You chosen title is not the final stop. Whether you want to keep the title or ignore it later, finalizing on your title first always help you to focus your story with clear conclusion. Personally, this is one of the most important step in creating a memoir outline.

#2. Lay out the Events You Want To Cover.

The next thing on how to outline your memoir is laying out the events for your memoir. This will help you to choose a theme for your memoir, even if it might not be the final one. 

You can then arrange the events in a chronological manner. This is not a compulsory-thing-you-must-follow type. However, it is helpful to know the events of everything in order.

Some people find it more easy to lay out the events and then go for the conclusion and title.

Once you begin crafting your story arc, you can structure your memoir again according to the theme and events, not necessarily in chronological order.

#3. Craft Your Story Arc.

Crafting your story arc is the part which will move your audience to a state of ‘wow’ or ‘hmmm’ stages. 

When you craft your story arc, you need to rearrange the events you noted to fit your compelling story arc. You can sort your stories into individual chapters, or even flashbacks, as a part of the whole story.

You can do this in two ways. The first way is, you can follow the exact chronology events from start to finish.

And the second way is to start your story in the middle or last of the chronology and use certain events as backstory to the primary narrative of your memoir.

Again, to hook the attention and interest of your readers, if you already know what you want your readers to grasp (the conclusion -takeaway), you can create more compelling story arc. 

#4. Center The Narrative Around You.

You are the main character in your memoir so your story must revolve around you. Make sure to center the narrative around you by using first-person narrative voice and first-hand accounts of situations and let it evenly represented at all junctures of your memoir. Your personal experience is what make your memoir unique and interesting.

#5. Settle On A Story Arc With Structured Scene.

Try to settle your story arc toward inciting action, rising action and climax. This is the traditional narrative structured followed by most novelist and memorists. You need not add fiction into it, nevertheless introducing these elements in your memoir story arc is one way to bring live to your story.

You will find these elements in point 8 on how to create create a heartfelt memoir below.

How To Write Your Memoirs

Now that you’ve known to structure your memoir, let us talk about how you can create an excellent memoir.

Here are 10 tips you can follow to write your memoir.

  1. Narrow your focus with a theme.
  2. Be vulnerable and tell the truth.
  3. Be relatable.
  4. Use strong verbs and emotions.
  5. Put your personality into your memoir.
  6. Include more than just your own stories.
  7. Write a memoir you would want to read.
  8. Add structured scenes to your story.
  9. Keep it relevant.
  10. Self Reflection.

Now, let’s go a bit deeper on how you can create your own memoir worth reading.

Here are few rules you can follow to write a good memoir:

#1. Narrow Your Focus With A Theme.

The first thing you must do is decide on what part of your life would you like to share. 

Remember, a memoir is not about the story of your whole life story, rather it is about a small tiny weeny part of your life which have an impact on your life. That will become your theme.

#2. Be Vulnerable And Tell The Truth.

Honesty is not only the best policy when writing your memoir, but it is also the most powerful tool you will need to create a heartfelt memoir.

Telling the truth even if it might hurt or upset your family or friends is something you have to deal with when you write your memoir. 

Showing your vulnerability and becoming an open book for the world to see who you really are is not an easy decision to take. It requires humility and guts to do so!

This is often tricky as you have to decide what to add and how to express your feelings in a more subtle way without exaggerating or bending the truth.

Your memoir should be credible without bringing a bad name or defaming someone.

You can use a pen name if you feel the need for it. You can also add a disclaimer stating names are changed for privacy purposes.

Your motive for writing a memoir shouldn’t be to pour out your bitterness over something or seek revenge or forgiveness. However, it should be something that your readers can relate to!

Nobody wants to reveal their mistakes and shortcomings to the world. However, you must open up yourself truthfully about what you are and what you have become because it is through your life experiences by getting vulnerable that you can touch the people in an emotional way.

#3. Be Relatable.

Start off your memoir in a way that makes the readers connect with them.

Make your message clear right away because when people relate to you and see themselves in your journey, they will find interest in your memoir and read your whole book as they will become intrigued to know what will come next!

Remember, nobody will want to read about someone to whom they cannot relate.

#4. Use Strong Verbs And Emotions.

One interesting feature your readers will like is using strong verbs in your sentences that are relevant to your situation.

For example: ‘The vase fell on the floor’ can be written as ‘the vase crashed to the floor’ as this will create more impact on what had happened.

Show more vocality in your emotions. Instead of explaining your feelings and emotions like ‘I was scared’, you can describe your physical reactions during the incident, like your chest-thumping, your hands sweating, etc.

#5. Put Your Personality Into Your Memoir.

To have an impact on your memoir, you need to be real with your personality. People are reading about your life and they need to see your personality in your writing. You must not be afraid to write how you speak and talk.

Your writing need not be soft or crafted to make it more absorbable if that is not your personality. You can even use some cuss words (if that’s how you speak), add some jokes, or add your own style of speech or phrases you personally use regularly.

The more your readers know about your personality, the more your character will become alive and the more they can relate to you. In fact, you can even use Google Docs talk-to-text to record your book as it will transpire more of you in your writing. Your readers must be able to feel emotions about your characters.   

#6. Include more than Just your own stories.

Though your book is about your life, it will be more useful if you include others’ stories as well. 

Your readers want to know about you but they also want to know what got you to this place to begin with – your backstory. 

It makes it more attractive when you add other people’s stories that coincide with yours. They can be your friends or family members. And you must take permission from them and use a different name if you want to.

The experience of the same incidence will differ according to each individual. Adding those details will strengthen your theme.

Apart from adding others’ stories, make connections with different stories that will further strengthen your core theme. 

For example: If you are a mother, you can write about the roles you play in your life. If you work in a corporate sector, your life about your corporate life, your life as a mother, your struggles, and what you learned. 

#7. Write A Memoir You Would Want To Read.

If whatever you write is something that you yourself find interesting, then there is a great chance others will also find it interesting. However, if you yourself find your memoir boring or have no specific theme, people won’t find it worth reading.

You have to put your readers in your shoes. your readers must be able to live and experience what you have written.

Your reader must be able to draw their own conclusions because this is essential to your success.

The best way to do this is to unfold the story before your reader’s eyes by using vivid language like strong verbs and emotions. (See point 4).

That also means you have to write your memoir by crafting it in an intriguing manner that adds structure to your theme. One way to do this is to craft strong characters your readers will feel like they know.

#8. Add Structured Scenes To Your Story.

Most novels you read followed structured elements. Though a memoir is a true story about you, adding a fiction-styled element will hook your readers’ attention.

Here are a few elements you must add to your storyline to make it interesting and intriguing.

  • The Incident –State the incident where the conflict begins with the action of the scene. 
  • The Conflicts – This will be an incidence of a series of events. You can add progressions to the events where the situation or conflict goes from good to bad or bad to good. This is also where you build your story arc.
  • The Dilemma – This is the stage where the character is in a dilemma whether to choose the good or the bad with each having its own negative and positive feedback. It can be presented with a choice between either two very good things or two very bad things.
  • The Climax – The outcome of the result of the dilemma faced turned out to be better or worse than expected.
  • The Resolution The impact on your life and others after the decision is made and what you learned from it.

Your aim should be to leave your readers with their cry with sympathy, laugh or be filled with awe, or experience all the three.

Hint: You have to think like a fiction writer.

#9. Keep It Relevant.

Relevancy is what you follow when you tell someone a story face to face.

You have to use the same approach when writing your memoir.

You can do so by adding those events and details of your life that support your story.

#10. Self Reflection.

By the end of your memoir, you need to introspect in the form of self-reflection. It will have more weight when you show how your life was affected by your experiences, your journey on the way, how you grew and changed as a result of what you lived through, or how you survived. 

To be more precise, you must try to format answers for the following questions:

How did your experience touch your life?

How does it bring change in your approach to life? 

How does it change your outlook on things or about yourself or others?

How does it help you become a better or wiser person?

Your readers will find meaning in your stories or learn something from your stories if you actually make meaning from your story.

Creating a memoir outline will help you focus on ending strong that makes your readers want more of you and your work! 

You know yourself better than anyone else in the world, and it’s in your hand how you want your readers to have a glimpse of your life through their eyes!

Here is how you can learn to write your book and publish it in as little as 7 days even if you are a beginner.

There you are. These are some of the most important features of how to write an outline for a memoir.

FAQs On How To Write A Memoir.

Q. Can I write my own memoir?

If you have a good and excellent story to tell or teach other people what you have learned from your life experiences, you definitely can write your own memoir.

Q. Can I write someone’s memoir?

Yes, you can write someone’s else memoir. However, you must make sure you get permission to write their life story. The best way to do is to take permission in a written form to protect yourself from any legal issues afterward.

You can change also change the names and mention that to protect their privacy.

Q. Do I need to use my real name in my memoir?

Unless you are revealing something too much which will have a greater impact on your life or work, it is better to use your real name.

Q. Can I use a pen name in my memoir?

Yes, you can. As I mentioned earlier, even if the story you have written is about yourself, if it is going to have an impact on your life and the people around you, it is better to opt for a pen name rather than go with your real name.

Nevertheless, going for your real name will be more beneficial in most cases if there is no threat!

Q. What is the difference between a memoir vs autobiography?

Memoirs are kind of an autobiography but with specific events in your life. A memoir is a personal nonfiction book that presents the first-hand retelling of a period in an author’s own life. 

An autobiography is a narration of the whole events from start to finish in a chronological format about an author or someone’s life.

Q. Are memoirs autobiographies?

Memoirs are kind of an autobiography but with specific events or eras in an author’s life. 

Q. What are the elements of a memoir? 

What are the  5 parts of a memoir?

The elements or part of a memoir can be broadly categorized into 5 parts.

  1. Having a focussed theme.
  2. Structured scenes.
  3. Truthful and honest.
  4. Relatable and relevant.
  5. Strong Conclusion.

Q. How to write a short memoir?

You can write a short memoir by following these steps.

  1. Create an outline for your memoir.
  2. Be honest and truthful.
  3. Add structured stories not only yours but also of others.
  4. Keep yourself in your readers’ shoes.
  5. Write a memoir that you yourself would want to read.
  6. Keep it relatable and relevant.
  7. Show your personality.
  8. End with a strong conclusion.

Q. How to write a memoir for students?

Whether you are a student or writing a memoir essay, follow these simple steps to make your memoir remarkable. The steps will be the same.

  1. Create an outline for your memoir.
  2. Be honest and truthful.
  3. Add structured stories not only yours but also of others.
  4. Keep yourself in your readers’ shoes.
  5. Write a memoir that you yourself would want to read.
  6. Keep it relatable and relevant.
  7. Show your personality.
  8. End with a strong conclusion.

Q. What are the steps to writing a memoir?

Here are the steps to write a memoir.

  1. Create an outline for your memoir.
  2. Be honest and truthful.
  3. Add structured stories not only yours but also of others.
  4. Keep yourself in your readers’ shoes.
  5. Write a memoir that you yourself would want to read.
  6. Keep it relatable and relevant.
  7. Show your personality.
  8. End with a strong conclusion.

Q. What is the format for a memoir?

The format of a memoir can be summarized into 5 categories.

  1. The incident.
  2. The conflicts.
  3. The dilemma.
  4. The climax.
  5. The resolution.

Q. What are the benefits of writing a memoir?

Memoirs are beneficial to teach other people about something which you have learned.

It can help you find your identity and purpose in life, keep your family legacy, gain popularity or reveal secrets, and build your connection with others. 

Q. What are the dangers of writing a memoir?

If you do not take permission from the people you mentioned in your memoir, you can face legal issues for invasion of someone’s privacy.

From your side, you might face defamation for revealing something about yourself, which of course is not that much of a concern as you want to project your own personality to the world. You can use a pen name if you feel you are revealing too much.

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