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November 17 Activity: Gather Details For a Memoir

November 17: Gather details for a memoir

While most of us have many vivid memories of other times in our lives, it remains true that we have forgotten many sense details of our experience. These sense details are often elements that will draw the reader into the story. It is important to gather details for a memoir.

A sense detail enables the reader to enter into the story in a visceral way. The reader can “see” the story unfold and “hear” the characters speak, “smell” the locale, “touch” the  objects that surround the character, and even “taste” lunch at Grandma’s.

But, perhaps you have forgotten much? Where to get help to gather details for a memoir?

Action steps

1. Create a Memory List of your life that focuses on the five senses.

2. If you find that you need external help, go to a museum that features something prominent in understanding your time frame. For example, if your story is about serving in the military, visit a military museum that records the time you were in the service. Note details you can incorporate into your story. Use the time at the museum to let your memory wander and collect as many details as you can.

Perhaps there is no museum available for you to gather details for a memoir you are planning. In that case, you could go to a vintage furniture or clothing store and examine artifacts that you find there. Take notes of the details. You could find a book in the library or a site of the net that features artifacts of your time frame.

Write or rewrite a story as soon as possible after compiling a sense memory list or after these visits – preferably that same day. You will find that it can be fun to gather details for a memoir.

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