5 Things to Consider When Structuring Your Memoir

7 05 2021
5 Things to Consider When Structuring Your Memoir
When thinking about structure in literature, most will default to fiction, poetry, and maybe even academic writing. However, structure is crucial to all literary genres—including memoir. In this article from 2018, author and memoirist Cheryl Suchors gives her top tips for structuring your memoir so it can stand tall and make an impact.Cheryl Suchors, September 12, 2018, WritersDigest.com
For some writers, structure appears like a bridge in the mist; for others, like myself, there’s only the mist. Several ingredients can be used to create a structure, like that bridge, that works for your book. You may know the answers to the considerations below right away, or you may need to experiment and discover them through the writing itself. Either way, memoir structure is as crucial as structure in fiction and no good memoir will be able to stand tall without it.
   
   
1. Order of EventsIn some memoirs, Without a Map by Meredith Hall, for example, the chapters jump forward and backward in time. This adds an element of unpredictability that both challenges and engages the reader.

Most memoirs, however, tend to flow chronologically. That is, they run through events in the sequence in which they happened. But even a chronological memoir isn’t purely chronological since the narrator is now an adult filtering past experiences through the lens of a wiser, more mature person. This is part of what adds richness to the tale.

If you can avoid a mostly chronological structure, good for you. You’ll benefit from the inherent complexity. But if, like most memoirists, you are using a chronological structure, there are still several techniques to help you avoid the pitfall of “first this happened, then that happened,” an approach that drains the life and tension from a book.Read the full article on our website…

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