02 June 2012

Plot for Memoir Writers

Yes, even memoir writers need a plot.

There is nothing more frustrating than to read a memoir that is simply a litany of events -- episodes that happen to the memoirist -- this happens and then this happens and then this happens. This is especially depressing when the writer has wonderful voice and insight into a moving period in history.

No matter how unique the writer's voice, without a plot, a reader's interest eventually begins wanes. Even a significant historical turning point loses its luster and impact without conflict, tension and suspense.

I'm especially cranky about one memoir in particular right now but can point to many others. For instance, Carole King's memoir falls flat and in the end the reader is left to wonder what all the events in her life really add up to. Rather than transformed by the dramatic action in her life, her life seems more out of balance at the end of the memoir than when she began.

Most readers long to be uplifted by the stories they read.

My advice? Before you spend money on a great cover and layout, publicity and marketing your story, study the craft of writing first. Just because the events happened to you does not mean that they will move and entertain and enlighten your reader.

To familiarize yourself with the Universal Story and basic plot tips and tricks:

1) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master (The companion workbook is coming this summer and available for pre-order now ~~ The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories)

2) Watch the Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? on YouTube. A directory of all the steps to the series is to the right of this post. 27-step tutorial on Youtube
3 Watch the Monday Morning Plot Book Group Series on YouTube. A directory the book examples and plot elements discussed is to the left of this post.

For additional tips and information about the Universal Story and plotting a novel, memoir or screenplay, visit:
Blockbuster Plots for Writers
Plot Whisperer on Facebook Plot Whisperer on Twitter