Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

An Outline Can Organize Your Memoir

An Outline Can Organize Your Memoir
A comment prompted by last week’s blog asked for more advice in getting started on a memoir. Creating an outline is an effective strategy because it’s an easier first step than writing a chapter, and the structure will guide you throughout the entire writing process.
Any decent word processing program will help you to format the outline. One common design uses, in order: roman numeral, capital letter, arabic number, lower-case letter, arabic number in parentheses, lower-case letter in parentheses and lower-case roman numeral in parentheses. You probably won’t even need to get into that level of detail. The idea is to trigger your memory and organize your thoughts so that you know where you’re going next. When applied to a memoir, it might look like this:
I. Childhood
A. Parents’ background
B. Siblings
C. School
D. Friends
E. Teen Years
II. Early Adulthood
A. 20s
1. First jobs
2. Meeting spouse
a. Courtship & marriage
b. Spouse’s family background
3. Birth of first child
B. 30s
1. New career
a. Night classes
b. Job at Company X
(1) Promotions
(a) Supervisor
(b) District manager
(i) Incident in New York
(ii) Company growth
c. Job at Company Y
2. Children
You can fill it in with a lot more—entire sentences if you like. You also don’t have to go in chronological order; check this page for other organizational options. When you become a WriteMyMemoirs member and go through our helpful interview process, a time line is created that serves as a type of outline for you. It provides cues to notable dates in your education and career, and we are working on a second time line that will organize your family life in the same way. We’re here to help, so please ask if you still have questions.

A comment prompted by last week’s blog asked for more advice in getting started on a memoir. Creating an outline is an effective strategy because it’s an easier first step than writing a chapter, and the structure will guide you throughout the entire writing process.

Any decent word processing program will help you to format the outline. One common design uses, in order: roman numeral, capital letter, arabic number, lower-case letter, arabic number in parentheses, lower-case letter in parentheses and lower-case roman numeral in parentheses. You probably won’t even need to get into that level of detail. The idea is to trigger your memory and organize your thoughts so that you know where you’re going next. When applied to a memoir, it might look like this:

I. Childhood

A. Parents’ background

B. Siblings

C. School

D. Friends

E. Teen Years

II. Early Adulthood

A. 20s

1. First jobs

2. Meeting spouse

a. Courtship & marriage

b. Spouse’s family background

3. Birth of first child

B. 30s

1. New career

a. Night classes

b. Job at Company X

(1) Promotions

(a) Supervisor

(b) District manager

(i) Incident in New York

(ii) Company growth

c. Job at Company Y

2. Children

You can fill it in with a lot more—entire sentences if you like. You also don’t have to go in chronological order; click here for other organizational options. When you become a WriteMyMemoirs member and go through our helpful interview process, a time line is created that serves as a type of outline for you. It provides cues to notable dates in your education and career, and we are working on a second time line that will organize your family life in the same way. We’re here to help, so please ask if you still have questions.

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Then just set up a chapter and start writing your memoir. Don’t worry about rules. There are no rules to writing your memoir; there are only trends. These trends are based on techniques and features identified in current top-selling memoirs. At best, they’re the flavor of the month. If you’re capturing your life in print for your family, for your own gratification or to inspire readers, rather than aiming to set off Hollywood screenplay bidding wars, these trends don’t even apply to you. You’ll write the memoir that suits you best, and it will be timeless, not trend-driven.There are no rules, but there are four steps:

1. Theme/framework
2. Writing
3. Editing/polishing
4. Self-publishing

You’ve researched this, too, and you’ve been shocked at the price for getting help with any one of those steps, much less all four. That’s because most memoir sites promise to commercialize your work. They’ll follow a formula based on current memoir trends, because they want to convince you that they can turn your memoir into a best-seller. These sites overwhelm you with unnecessary information not to help you, the memoir author, but to address Search Engine Optimization (SEO) algorithms so they can sell more.

That’s not what we do at Write My Memoirs. Our small community of coaches, writers and editors are every bit as skilled as any you’ll find, and we charge appropriately for their expertise and the time they’ll spend helping you craft a compelling, enjoyable read. But you won’t pay an upcharge for other websites’ commercialization, the marketing that follows, and the pages of intimidating “advice.” You can sell your book if you like—we have ISBNs available for you—but our organic process of capturing your story takes a noncommercial path.

If you want help with any or all of the four steps above, choose from our services or save money by selecting one of our packages. If you’d like to talk about what’s right for you, schedule a call. One year from now, you can be holding your published memoir in your hand. And at that point, it will be a big deal!