Blueprint for Memoir or Fiction (and even some Poetry)

  1. What was the status quo?
  2. What happened to change, or destroy that?
  3. How did your main character (you, in a memoir) attempt to resolve it?
  4. How did his or her trials turn out?
  5. What do you hope the reader will walk away with?

In a book-length work, the same blueprint should also be the backbone of each chapter, which begins with a new status quo, a new problem for the character (you in a memoir) to get through, and a new ending—a cliffhanger to take the reader to the next chapter.

Even some poetry can fit into this blueprint.

Don’t see it as a template or outline, because it’s not.  But if you can’t answer the above questions, either before or after you’ve written the piece, something’s missing.  (Unless it’s “stream of consciousness”, which is just journal writing and not what I’m addressing here).

Beginning, middle, and end.  It’s the first lesson in the most basic writing class.  Even the story of how your day went today would be told as beginning, middle, and how it all ended. Hopefully, with your having gifted the world with one of your stories!

Author: Valerie Serrano

Valerie Serrano has a master of fine arts degree in creative writing and a bachelor of arts in psychology. Valerie taught English and writing in New York for seven years (1996-2003), and has been teaching creative writing classes online through www.LetsWrite.com and in Santa Rosa, California, where she now resides, since 2012. Her small business is called Let's Write! from which she also offers editing, self-publishing help, and more (such as motivation to good but scared writers). Val loves every minute of it, especially when students have the gumption to take their writing from first (very) rough draft to (self) published. Valerie has self-published her own novel called The Archangel of Hamilton Beach and a children’s picture book, Horses Talk Funny, both available on Amazon and via her blog. Val loves to say: So, Let's Write!

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