Life review yields long-term gains that enrich character by bringing understanding to events. The patterns in your life become more discernible among the wreckage and the romance, more like a well-plotted novel that reveals characters through their actions and reactions. ----James Hillman
Now is the time to begin writing your story. But how do you organize all these anecdotes, these precious times in your life?
There is no hard and fast rule about how to organize the stories. I do believe each person has to take some time to first write the easy stories to tell. Once you start writing and conversing with friends and family about the old days, so many stories will surface. Write them all down without worry about organization. Keep them in your three ring binder.
1. Themes..The more you write the more you may discover there are themes to your stories. There may be several accounts about being a caretaker for your parents, a hobby you love, pets you have had over the years. Each topic will be a theme which you can expand.
2. Chronological Order
3. Relate happenings in the present to something in the past e.g. the movie/book Julie and Julia. The story follows the exuberant chef, Julia Childs in the past and the present story of Julie who decided to write a blog about making every single recipe in Julia’s cookbook every day for a year.
The Five W’s and How
When writing your memoir, remember your journalism class and the prof expounding on the five w’s—who, what, where, when, why, and how. It is very important to explain to readers of the future who this person is and how he/she is related to you, the location, the dates when the action takes place, and why this particular episode in your life is significant to you.
Show and Tell
In every good story, there must be more showing than telling to keep the reader’s interest. Dialogue is an interesting way to help move the story along. Using the five senses immerses the reader into the story. Include interesting characteristics of your subject to bring them to life. I have a woman in our family, who shall remain nameless, who picked her nose all the time she talked to me. Maybe you have an uncle like I did who prayed and prayed and prayed before a meal. And how about my aunt whose mustache was so dark that when she died, the undertaker shaved it off and nobody recognized her in the casket?
Describe a relative or friend in your life as if (s)he is a character in your novel. Bring her to life for us. Be sure to include how (s)he is related to you and why she is important in your life.
J Q Rose is the author of the mystery-light horror novella, Sunshine Boulevard, published by Muse It Up Publishing.