4 memoir writing prompts to find the most compelling slice of your story to share with others.

A question I get asked by authors quite a bit is – “What’s the difference between a memoir and a biography?” 

Think of a biography as a multi-camera television show where you get the whole story, in order, from all angles, at once. 

A memoir is more of a single camera feature film with one specific angle and one point of view. More likely than not, it’s an indie film where creative license and conveying a message usually takes precedence over showing a neat, tidy, organized, somewhat predictable, and chronological life story. 

Memoirs, like life, tend to be messy.

Think – trying to take a slice out of a hot, still runny blueberry pie. It’s rarely a clean break but you get exactly what you came for.

But… “Where do I start in selecting which slice(s) of my life to focus on? What will people be most interested in?”

While the process I guide my authors through is a bit more lengthy and complex, I’ve come up with a series of memoir prompts to help clarify your thinking and start narrowing down the camera angles of your life story in the direction of the most narratively compelling ones. 

In other words – spot the story of your life that people will most want to read! 

4 Memoir Writing Prompts:

Part I: Crossroads

What are the major crossroads in your life which, in 20/20 hindsight, changed everything for you? Look at each one – where were you in your life, what were the events that preceded and followed it, and how did your life change because of it?

Part II: Choices

What choices did you make that caused and/or contributed to each life crossroad?

Part III: Character Traits

Which of your character traits caused and/or contributed to these life crossroads? Which traits changed as a result of them? Which new character traits developed as a result of passing through these life crossroads? 

Part IV: Cinematic Inventory

Using your crossroad moments as a foundation, take an inventory of all the potential movies of your life. Movies – plural. The more the better. Then, whittle your list down based on which ones have messages and lessons that you are passionate about sharing with others. 

P.S. Ready to take the next steps from these memoir writing prompts? Give me a shout!

Related Articles:

Memoirs Light Up Shadows

Post Memoir Reflections

4 Memoir Writing Techniques to Elevate Your Journaling


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