Sunday, August 22, 2010

Memoir Writing: Build Your Arc - Keep Your Memoir Afloat - Part III

When writing your memoir remember you are the action hero and the arc of your story is essential in determining what part needs dramatizing. Building your arc should be done before you begin any form of outline. An arc looks like the Bell curve used in some schools to bring up the grade average of a class. You begin low, reach a crescendo then begin the decline to the climax.

Beginning steps for constructing an arc.

1. The Desire Line - What was your life's desire? This will drive the book.
2. Actions and Obstacles - What did you do or want and what got in your way?
3. Emotional Beats - A memoir is an emotional journey. The events are not there because they happened but to show emotion you go through.
4. The Initiating Incident - This comes near the beginning and is the main cause of your troubles.
5. The Ending Incident - Your desire will define the ending.

Adair Lara's article, "Elements of an Effective Arc", in the July/August issue of Writer's Digest, explains in detail how to draw an arc and how emotions and obstacles are the heart beat of your story.

Lara says "Drawing your arc is not something you can knock out in the half-hour before dinner."

Get your toolbox ready,

Next week, Part IV - Turn Your story into a marketable memoir.


  1. Hey, Carma,

    Thanks for the great post. It's so nice to be reminded of helpful steps like this when we're writing.

  2. Great post, and good advice. Love your blog.