November 10 Activity: Writing Plot into a Memoir
People are sometimes surprised to learn that a memoir needs a plot. For some writers, this technique of writing plot into a memoir screams of twisting the memoir into a fiction piece. But, all of us need to be kept reading by some mechanism. This mechanism is often called plot. A plot is an action. Plot is the something that happens in a memoir. Today, we explore how to create a plot that is true to the memoir.
Structure your stories around problems. Problems involve actions—plots. John loves Mary and Mary loves John is not very active. The placid love story has little to offer for an interesting story plot or problem to be resolved.
John loves Mary and Mary loves John and John also loves Peter however has the making of a conflict, an engaging story plot. This conflict is what is meant by writing plot into a memoir.
Write a 3-to-5-page story about conflict in your memoir time frame. Include actions that were pivotal in getting you to resolve the problem you were facing. be sure to insert moments when you were not at all sure you could resolve your problem. Explore the following including only items that were absolutely true (no making things up here).
- the emotional and psychological factors that militated against success. Boredom is one such factor as is insecurity and self-doubt.
- the people who did not support you—along with the people who opposed you. This can include the indifferent people whose help you could have used.
- State your goals for the action you undertook and show how the outcome was uncertain.
Without exaggerating, write in the conflicts that played themselves out and how you overcame them or did not overcome them. Later we will look at other fiction elements like suspense and foreshadowing.
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