Writers Write is your one-stop writing resource. In this post, we discuss why you need to include scenes and sequels in memoirs.
Just as a novel is made up of action scenes and reaction scenes (sequels), so is your memoir.
In a previous post, I discussed why you need to write your memoir like fiction. You need to plot it and pace it and add suspense. You need to consider how you describe a setting and how you write dialogue. You need to entertain your readers.
Scenes And Sequels In Memoirs
You also need to divide your story into scenes and sequels.
An average novel is 80 000 words and has an average of 60 scenes. An average memoir is 65 000 words and has an average of 50 scenes.
Remember that this is just a framework to begin plotting your memoir. You may write a much longer or shorter memoir.
Scenes In Memoirs
Like novels, your scenes in memoirs will be about action. This is where you chose to do something and what happened as a result. This is where you argued, fought, escaped, loved, hated, survived, and searched. This is where you were attacked and abused. Scenes take up about 50-60% of your memoir.
Sequels In Memoirs
Like novels, your sequels will be about your reaction. This is where you planned, thought, reflected, processed, rested, and made peace. You can also use sequels to show your setting, add backstory, and reinforce the theme of your memoir. Sequels take up about 40-50% of your memoir.
- In novels, you have more scenes than sequels.
- In memoirs, you will probably end up with an even amount of scenes and sequels. A memoir is naturally more reflective than a novel.
How To Use Scenes And Sequels To Plan Your Memoirs
- Create a timeline for your memoir. Remember that a memoir is not an autobiography. It is not your whole life story. It is about an event or series of events that are tied together by a theme. Using a timeline will help you organise your memoir.
- Include the most important scenes and sequels. Work out the most important events and insert them into the timeline. Use these for your memoir. You will obviously have to leave out a lot, but that is normal when you write a memoir. Many of the scenes you have to omit will be similar. For example, if you were abused for five years, you cannot include every scene. You need to write one that shows what happened – normally the first time it happens, and add scenes that showed something different about the abuse. For example, the relationship between you and the abuser may have changed.
- Use the scenes to show what happened. Use dialogue. Show us what you did and what you said. Use the senses to make the story come alive for the readers.
- Use the sequels to tell us how you felt. But do not have a pity party here. Readers will empathise with you if you show strength and resolve along with the misery.
- Make sure every scene and sequel relates to your theme. You should be able to put your theme into one sentence. If your theme is ‘Addicts rush in where angels fear to tread’ make sure everything you include reflects this. Your scenes will show what you did as an addict. The sequels will show the consequences of those actions.
Scenes and sequels are an excellent plotting tool. They give you a framework for your memoir.
If you want to learn how to write a memoir, join our Secrets of a Memoirist course.
© Amanda Patterson
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