Memoir Inventory Print
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Memoir Inventory

A guide to understanding where you are with your memoir and to keeping the book going.

These questions apply to what you have written or what you will write.

A reminder: A memoir is a narrative, descriptive, or expository form of writing that focuses on the meaning and intensity of a singular relationship in the author’s life.

  1. How much work have you done on this book?
  2. What evidence do you have for your book?
  3. Where does the memoir take place?
  4. Besides you, who are the main characters?
  5. Who’s alive, who’s dead?
  6. Who do you want to read your book?
  7. What’s the highpoint of the tale? (a plot point or an emotional climax; outer v. inner)
  8. How much time elapses, that is, the time of the story, not of the life?
  9. How does your memoir end?
  10. How does your memoir begin?
  11. List three big cultural, political, historical events that are part of your memoir. (9/11; women’s movement; invention of email; Tea Party)
  12. Who is telling the tale? How much of your remembered self is telling this tale, how much of your remembering self is the teller?
  13. What do you have trouble remembering or what have you possibly misremembered?
  14. What are the strongest emotions you’ve experienced writing this book?
  15. What is the emotional growth of the story? How do you change from beginning to end?
  16. If you’re writing about the living, what sorts of problems or surprises or benefits with them will you encounter or have you encountered? Might this extend to writing about the dead?
  17. What’s the hardest part?
  18. How will you practically keep your memoir going? List three things you’ll work on.