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pillars of a powerful memoir

Three Pillars of a Powerful Memoir

There is power in writing your story. Your memoir can transform you as it leads to understanding the energy in your life and ultimately making that energy work for you.

The three pillars of a powerful memoir I want to talk about are the old stand-bys of character, action, and setting. A story is not a journal entry. Unlike a journal, a memoir needs development.  Ranting and raving fit into a journal but not into a story—unless ranting and raving are in the dialog. Story has its own dynamics which in turn lead to their own conclusions. In writing your memoir, connect to your story as a literary form—literary here refers to in writing. There are requirements that go into the creation of an effective story—whether written or spoken. As mentioned before these are character, action, and setting.

Be Guided by These 3 Pillars of a Powerful Memoir When Writing Your Story

1. Your characters are the people in your story

Describe your people in detail, using your sense awareness of them:  sight, sound, touch, and tastes associated with them. Be specific. Your mother did not only scream she screamed in a high pitch. Your father not only swore at his bosses, he swore with all the energy in his lungs so that his neck turned red. Your grandparents were not only poor, they lived in a four-room house with a porch that sagged in the middle so that there was a row of boards laid down from the steps to the front door.

It is your job to bring vividly written characters to the attention of your readers. You must use descriptive details to present believable characters. Without other people, our lives and memoirs risk losing their meaning. Although ideas are pivotal for many individuals, relationships are even more commanding. We are intrigued with who other people are and how they function. “Who’s that? What are they doing? Where did they come from?” These are questions we want answered. To write a strong story, capitalize on this interest. Remember: you are always your own first audience.

2. The action is what happens in your story

The action of your story is its PLOT. Something must happen in your story.

Listen to how a child tells a story. It is all action. Nuances of character and setting are immaterial to the child. It’s what happens that counts. Our reliance on action, on plot, doesn’t wane as we grow older, but our ways of using it grow more sophisticated.

One writer’s trick is to start in the middle of things. If you are writing about the time you got fired from a job, don’t start with the first vocational aptitude test you took in high school. Instead, start when you are first detecting a problem with a supervisor and then proceed from there to the unhappy conclusion. This sort of quick pacing will keep the interest of the reader and will keep you writing about what is really important.

Keep explanations and background material brief. Avoid the lengthy, informational flashback. Providing too much context can overwhelm your story and dissipate the energy of the action.

3. The setting is where your story happens

The setting is both the where and the when of your story. The where is the place in which the story occurs. It includes interiors and exteriors of buildings, the landscape, and the political demarcations (town, county, country, etc.). The when includes the calendar time as well as the history of the characters and of their community (family, group, nation, etc.). Setting, like character, is also best established with ample sense-oriented details.

Without the sort of tangible physical setting provided in the paragraph above, your story remains an ethereal piece—inhabited by phantoms in a conceptual space. Your story needs to have a sense of place that is very real. Descriptive writing that is full of sensory details will do that.

To achieve the full power of telling your money story, respect the requirements of good story writing. Your reward in understanding will be all the greater.

Honor these three pillars of a powerful memoir to transform your writing.

If you would like to view this post as a YouTube video, click here.

And remember: “inch by inch, it’s a cinch; yard by yard it’s hard.”

Good luck writing your stories!

Here is a FREE e-course I have curated just for you:

~ Five Steps to Vivid Memoir Characters

~ Steps to Write Memorable Memoir Characters

~ Fiction Is Not a Friend of Your Memoir Plot/ Correctable Plot Problems

~ Yes, Your Memoir Does Have Clear Dramatic Potential!

~ Write Incredible Memoir Settings 

~ To view this post as a YouTube video: Requirements every memoir must have. Miss them and you miss being clear with your reader.


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