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Scenes in a Memoir

Last week I mentioned two questions that you need to keep asking yourself while writing your memoir. Remember that this is not a chronological order of things that happened in your life, but rather scenes that help portray a particular part of your story.

The first question, how does this scene relate to my theme or subject matter, helps you narrow your focus. For example, let’s say your a male, your story involves being raped and the voice you found to tell your story. Your theme is surviving a trauma and your subject matter is male rape. You writing about the incident and find you’re writing about the time your sister was raped. While her story is important and her experience may have helped you heal from yours, does that relate to your theme or subject matter? No, it doesn’t. Staying with scenes that don’t need to be there takes away from the message your are trying to convey. However, if your sister was raped by the same offender that raped you, then it would be a justified mention, so you are not veering off topic.

With this scenario in mind, let’s use the same scene and answer the second question, what sense am I trying to make of my story through writing this scene? Mentioning your sister’s incident would not make sense to your story, however, again, being raped by the same offender would make sense because there is a commonality involved.

Here are two examples:

  • I thought he was my friend but when I got up to leave, he rushed to the door and stood in my way. My gut was telling me something was very wrong. He pulled a knife on me and before I could do anything, he had me on the ground. He told me he was going to cut me if I didn’t comply. Last year my sister was raped too. Just seems weird both of us would fall victim to this crime.

  • I thought he was my friend but when I got up to leave, he rushed to the door and stood in my way. My gut was telling me something was very wrong. He pulled a knife on me and before I could do anything, he had me on the ground. He told me he was going to cut me if I didn’t comply. When I got home, my sister saw how upset I was and asked me what was wrong. I told her and she broke down and said he was the one who raped her a years ago and was too afraid to tell anyone. We called the police together

As you can see, the second paragraph entwines the sister’s incident within his theme and subject matter while the first paragraph does not.

Make sense?

It is imperative you keep checking yourself with these two questions throughout your writing. By doing this also wraps up any loose ends you may have within your story.

If you are still confused, send me a message and I will help unconfuse you. 😀

Next week: Breaking down the key points 1, 2, & 3.


Until next time…



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