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Memoirs - ENG 103
Transcript of Memoirs - ENG 103
Photo based on: 'horizon' by pierreyves @ flickr
Memoirs explore and reflect on a central theme or question, while telling an autobiographical story.
They invite readers to explore and reflect with the narrator to try to unravel the deeper significance of the events.
Writers create memoirs when they have personal stories that they hope will inspire others.
Your goal is not just to tell a story, but to explore its significance and arrive at insights on the issues discussed.
Description of a complication
What the writer learned
Evaluation of the complication
Resolution of the complication
Sets the scene
You should include:
An engaging title
An introduction with a hook that captures the reader's interest or sets the scene
A complication, tension or conflict that will be resolved by the end of the story.
A conflict between people's values, beliefs, desires, or needs
A conflict within the author as he/she moves from one life stage to another or discovers something previously unknown.
Something new, challenging, discomforting or frighting.
Rich and vivid details to give the story greater imagery and impact.
A central theme or question that the narrator explores and reflects on with the reader.
A new understanding or revelation that presents a moment of growth, transformation, or clarity in the writer.
Your goal in a memoir is to uncover the meaning of your past for your readers and for yourself.
Begin with an interesting event or series of events from your life that you want to explore.
You need to reflect on your memories to figure out what they meant at the time, and what they mean to you now.
A struggle to learn something
A mental or physical struggle
An event that taught you something about yourself or someone else
A family story that is often retold
An important event that you learned from
A failure that you learned from
A challenge that you were successful at
An event from your childhood that stands out to you
An event or series of events that explore your relationship with a member of your family
Give rich descriptions of people, places and things
Allow the characters in your memoir to reveal key details about themselves through dialogue rather than narration
Write the way your characters speak
Identify who is speaking with dialogue tags (i.e. she said, he yelled, etc.)
The problem or challenge that you or others needed to resolve
Pay special attention to figuring out how this complication came about and why people reacted to it in the way they did.
Resolving the Complication
Show how you and others evaluated and resolved the complication.
Show how people tried to make sense of the complication, reacted to the change, and moved forward.
Should describe not only what you learned, but also what your reader should have learned from your experiences.
Give your story some closure.
Make your point directly or indirectly, but it should be clear what the reader is supposed to have learned.
A good memoir is lean, with little or no fat.
Look at every aspect of the memoir, and take out anything that is not absolutely necessary.
When it comes to storytelling, less is often more.
Delete anything that doesn't advance the story or help you develop your characters or your message.